I have wonderful friends who are also passionate about food and if I were to baptize different roles for them, I will have to leave the four corners of kitchen to Princess and Jason. Princess, being a promising baker, has a sweet tooth for all things goodies and desserts, while Jason, who takes the role of the chef of the group (though no formal training to officially label him as such), has the handiness for homemade dishes – from fancy appetizers to authentic home-prepared Filipino table fares. Last weekend, Jason cooked one of my favorite soup dishes for his family dinner – the Beef Shank Soup or locally known as Bulalo. Too bad I was not able to reach for a bowl of this soothing goodness as I was either missing in action or daydreaming somewhere else when the dinner was served. But still, thanks to the mouthwatering photo he kept aside for me. This just made me drool the entire night for real!
|It takes time and patience to attain the splendor of Bulalo's rich and powerful flavors|
Bulalo is a clear soup made from the shank of the beef, simmered for hours until the meat almost detach from the bone and much of the collagen and bone marrow are dissolved into the broth. It is seasoned with simple spices which may differ according to the preference of the person preparing it. The choice of vegetables lies on the crops prolific in the region. The mode in which the dish is prepared resembles nilaga (stew). While nilaga varies on the type of meat to be included, bulalo calls for the specific use of beef shank and bone marrow. But just the same, the splendor of its rich and powerful taste highly depends on the time and the patience it entails to tenderize the meat and to extract its great flavors. These qualities, indeed, are intricate to the authenticity and grandeur of traditional Philippine cuisine.
Being a popular table fare in many Filipino carinderia or local eateries, bulalo has also become a specialty dish in the menu of some five-star restaurant in the Philippines. It is believed to have originated during the pre-Spanish era, the time when the popular methods of cooking known to our native inhabitants were as simple as boiling, grilling and steaming with the use of minimal spices and through the help of conventional cooking pots and earthenwares. With the emergence of technology and for practical reasons, pressure cookers and crockpots were invented and have been used nowadays to help speed up the cooking process. Bulalo is a signature dish of the Southern Luzon, Philippines particularly in Sto. Tomas, Batangas and Tagaytay City, Cavite. Famous bulalohan (eateries specializing in bulalo) are rampant in these provinces. These local restaurants serve the most authentic bulalo dishes and are common stopovers for travelling locals and foreigners alike.
|Bulalo is best served with plenty of rice accompanied with dipping concoction of fish sauce, calamansi and crushed chili on the side|
Sipping bulalo soup is a perfect warmth during the cold days but also energizing even in warmer seasons. Indeed, Bulalo is a Filipino comfort dish that could be best served no matter what the weather is and would remain a favorite for all seasons.
Try also the Bulalo Steak, a beef shank dish doused in creamy rich white sauce and topped with button mushrooms. Check it out here.
Bulalo (Beef Shank Soup)
Number of Servings: 4
- 2 lbs. bulalo (beef shank), bone-in and cut on one end exposing the bone marrow
- 1 pc. medium-sized white onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch pechay (Chinese cabbage), trimmed and leaves separated
- 3 cobs of corn, each equally cut into 3 segments
- ½ cup spring onions, finely chopped
- 3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
- 1 tbsp. whole peppercorn
- salt to taste
- In a large casserole, pour enough water to cover the beef shank and bring to a boil.
- Add the beef shank, and then onion, garlic, peppercorn and patis. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Add more water if the stock begins to dry. Alternatively, cook the ingredients in a pressure cooker over moderate heat for 1.5 hours.
- Scoop out the scum that accumulates on the surface. Put in the corn and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the pechay and spring onions. Season with salt and remove from heat.
- Place in a bowl and serve with dipping sauce of mixed patis, calamansi and crushed Thai chili on the side. Consume while the soup is hot along with plenty of steamed rice. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- Bulalo is usually cooked with minimal ingredients but you can boost it up by adding more vegetables of your choice like potatoes, saging na saba (plantain banana), bok choy, chayote, cabbage, carrots, romaine lettuce and string beans.
- Some cooking techniques involve blanching /soft boiling and washing the shanks with cold water to get rid of all the scums and impurities in order to achieve a clearer soup. I prefer to just strain the broth and skip the “washing” part as this might rinse off some flavors.