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It’s a well known fact that Filipinos love stew and soup dishes. From the sour sinigang to the sweet tinola, there’s guaranteed to be a soup dish for every flavor palate preference –– all great to sip and enjoy, especially during long, cool nights. But one of the most popular, and arguably most delicious, soups out there, is the classic Bulalo, or beef shank stew.
One might classify bulalo as a kind of nilaga –– after all, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in ingredients, nor in the cooking process. But what sets bulalo apart is the very specific choice of meat we use for it. The star of a great bulalo is always the meat –– more specifically, the use of beef shank, with marrow still inside the bone. The meat of bulalo is famous for melting in your mouth, practically falling off the bone with how tender it becomes! Doesn’t the mere thought of it make your mouth water?
How to prepare it
Bulalo may only have a few ingredients, but it takes an awful lot of patience to prepare. This is only because you have to wait for the beef to reach optimal tenderness. In this recipe, we let our bulalo sit and boil for about an hour and a half. If you have a pressure cooker it should take less time, but still a while, compared to other dishes. In fact, one and a half hours might still be short compared to other recipes, which let the bulalo simmer for much longer. My Batangas Bulalo recipe recommends a boiling and cooking time of 4 hours! But fear not –– with bulalo, especially when cooked well, the wait is always worth it!
The other ingredients of bulalo are also delicious and nutritious contributions; cabbage, pechay, corn and onions are also typical ingredients in this great dish. You can also choose to add in fish sauce or patis as a substitution for salt.
Because it’s such a classic dish, there have been many variations of bulalo made by Filipinos, making this humble and already delicious dish more exciting! If you’re a fan of the classic kare-kare, my Bulalo Kare-Kare gives you the best of both worlds, combining delicious beef shank with the trademark peanut sauce. Even more different from the classic recipe is this Deep Fried Bulalo with Teriyaki Sauce! By coating the beef shank in breadcrumbs, eggs and flour, you create a dish crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. With restaurant style teriyaki sauce on the side, it makes for an amazing, yummy meal –– a great twist on a Filipino favorite!
Without question, Bulalo is a quintessential comfort food. It’s no wonder so many restaurants –– bulalohans –– have dedicated themselves to making bulalo their trademark dish. But now you won’t even have to go far to enjoy this meal; with this easy recipe, you can have Bulalo any time you’re craving the comfort of home.
A Step by Step Guide to Making Bulalo
The steps to making Bulalo are simple, albeit quite long because of the tenderizing process. Nonetheless, you should be able to follow this beef shank stew with ease!
An optional precursor step to making bulalo is blanching your meat to avoid excess fat and sediments. Boil your beef shanks in water over medium heat, skimming the excess fats and scum that accumulate and float on the water. After 10 minutes, take your beef out and bring it under cold running water, “cleaning” it. Once you’ve removed the excess sediments and thrown out the used water, you can now start officially cooking your bulalo!
Pour 34 ounces (or about a liter) of water into a large cooking pot, bringing it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, it’s time to put in your beef shank, followed by your medium sized onion and peppercorn. If you’re using a pot, let the meat simmer for about an hour and a half. But for a pressure cooker you’ll only need about half an hour. Let your meat tenderize.
Add in your corn. For this recipe I use 3 whole corns, but cut it up into 3 parts each for convenience. Keep the bulalo simmering for another 10 minutes. After your 10 minutes are up, you can now add in your other vegetables: your cabbage, pechay, and green onion (or onion leeks). This is when you can also add in 2 tablespoons of patis, but again, this is an optional step.
Once you’ve fully cooked your vegetables, you’re ready to eat your bulalo! Serve it hot and share it with your family and friends. With a steaming cup of rice to pour your soup over, it’s definitely an awesome, unforgettable meal!
Let us know what you think of this bulalo!
- Pressure cooker
- In a big cooking pot, pour in water and bring to a boil
- Put-in the beef shank followed by the onion and whole pepper corn then simmer for 1.5 hours (30 mins if using a pressure cooker) or until meat is tender.
- Add the corn and simmer for another 10 minutes
- Add the fish sauce,cabbage, pechay, and green onion (onion leeks)
- Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!