In a small bowl, place the annatto seeds, if using. Pour in the hot water and leave to soak for the seeds to release its colour. Set aside.
Meanwhile, slice the vegetables. I sliced my long beans into 2” long pieces. For the eggplants, I sliced them diagonally into half before slicing into 2” pieces as well. For the pechay/bok choy, I simply chopped the ends off and separated the leaves.
Heat a large pan or wok over medium high. Add 1 tbsp oil. Sauté the eggplant until slightly tender, around 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Repeat this for the long beans and add a splash of water to half cook, as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Lastly, quickly sauté the bok choy/pechay as well for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. I like to cook my vegetables down for a few minutes so they can release some of the liquid and won’t make my kare-kare too watery later on.
In the same plan, add in the remaining oil. Once hot, sauté the garlic and onion for 2 minutes until tender and aromatic.
Move the onion and garlic to the side of the pan and then add in the crushed peanuts. Lightly toast the peanuts over medium high heat for around 4 minutes, moving around every minute or so.
Add in the peanut butter and mix well with the crushed peanuts.
Pour in the vegetable broth or water with a vegetable cube. Leave to simmer over medium high heat, mixing constantly, until the peanut butter dissolves.
Mix in the rice flour until it dissolves as well and then leave to boil over medium high heat.
Leave to cook until the sauce thickens and mix every 2-3 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Strain the annatto seeds from the water/liquid and then pour in the annatto liquid into the stew. Give it a good mix.
Add in the sautéed vegetables. Mix well to incorporate in the sauce. Season with salt and sugar, to taste, as desired.
Add in more water or vegetable broth to thin out the sauce if you'd like. Season with more salt/sugar to taste if needed. Feel free to add more peanut butter, if you'd like it creamier/nuttier!
Once the vegetables are cooked through, turn off the heat.
Enjoy while hot with some steamed rice or Filipino Fried Garlic Rice and some vegan bagoon or vegan shrimp paste, if desired. You can see homemade bagoong or "shrimp" paste recipe here.