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Bulalo

The Soul-Warming Filipino Beef Bone Marrow Soup

“Bulalo” is more than just a soup in the Philippines. It is a dish that embodies the nation’s cultural identity and love for homemade cooking. Throughout generations, families have passed down this delicious recipe, infusing it with their unique twists and flavors. Served hot in a deep bowl, this hearty soup is perfect for any occasion, from rainy days to family gatherings. The rich and savory taste of Bulalo comes from the tender beef shanks and bone marrow, which add a depth of flavor that is hard to resist. The addition of various vegetables, such as corn, cabbage, and “pechay”, only adds to the dish’s nutritional value and enhances its flavors. Not only does Bulalo warm the stomach, but it also warms the heart, bringing families and communities together around the dining table. This article will explore every aspect of this beloved dish, from its roots to its cultural significance. Let’s dive in and savor every bit of this delicious treat.

“Bulalo” is a dish from the Philippines that is made using beef bones from the legs of cows. It originated in rural areas where cows were raised for farming, and people wanted to use all parts of the cow to minimize waste. The dish became popular across the country because of its great taste and nutrition. The beef bones are slow-cooked for several hours, making the broth rich and flavorful. Many Filipinos enjoy “bulalo” because it is a satisfying and nutritious meal. The dish is a great example of how Filipinos use their creativity and resourcefulness to create something delicious from what they have.

bulalo

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds beef shanks (or oxtail, beef brisket)
  • 1 to 2 beef marrow bones
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 liters water
  • 2 to 3 pieces corn on the cob, cut into 2 to 3-inch segments
  • 2 to 3 pieces ripe plantains (saba bananas), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 to 3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small cabbage, chopped into wedges
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce (adjust according to taste)
  • Whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Green onions (scallions), chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Blanch the beef: In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the beef shanks (or oxtail/beef brisket). Let it boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the meat under running water to remove any impurities and foam. This step helps ensure a clear broth.

  2. Prepare the broth: In the same pot, add the blanched beef, beef marrow bones, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Fill the pot with 2 to 3 liters of water, enough to cover the meat. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the meat to cook for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours until the beef is tender. Skim off any scum and fat that rises to the surface occasionally.

  3. Add the vegetables: Once the beef is tender, add the corn on the cob, plantains, and potatoes to the pot. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are cooked but still firm, usually about 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. Season the broth: Season the bulalo with fish sauce and crushed black peppercorns. Adjust the amount of fish sauce and salt according to your preference. The fish sauce adds depth and saltiness to the broth.

  5. Add the cabbage: Finally, add the chopped cabbage to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cabbage becomes tender yet retains some crunch.

  6. Serve: Once all the vegetables are cooked to your desired level of doneness, the bulalo is ready to be served. Ladle the soup into bowls, making sure to include a good amount of beef shanks, bone marrow, and vegetables in each serving. Garnish with chopped green onions for added flavor and freshness.

  7. Enjoy: Bulalo is best enjoyed hot and is commonly served with steamed rice on the side. Feel free to serve it with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, calamansi or lime juice, and crushed chili peppers for an extra kick.

 

Cultural Significance

Bulalo is a Filipino dish renowned for its scrumptious flavor that goes beyond mere mouth-watering appeal, becoming instead a culturally significant symbol. It represents the extraordinary hospitality and togetherness of the Filipino people. Whenever there is a gathering, it is not surprising to see bulalo being served, and the occasion is quickly transformed into a lively and unforgettable moment full of stories and laughter. Such special moments created around a pot of bulalo are remembered and cherished by Filipinos for a lifetime. Moreover, the significance of bulalo transcends being just a mere dish. In local celebrations and fiestas, it is an essential part of the menu, reflecting the concept of communal sharing and bonding in Filipino culture. In fact, it has become a favorite among tourists who are treated to an authentic taste of Filipino cuisine as they partake in the customs and traditions of the country. Ultimately, bulalo is an invaluable part of Filipino culture that goes beyond the pleasure it provides to everyone’s taste buds.

Bulalo is not only a meal that satisfies cravings, but it is also packed with numerous health benefits. This delicious soup is rich in flavor and essential nutrients. The bone marrow, a key ingredient, is a great source of essential minerals such as calcium, vital for strong and healthy bones. Moreover, it also contains a generous amount of iron and phosphorus that aids in blood production and overall health. The slow-cooked bones offer another health benefit: the gelatin in the soup not only preserves the natural flavor of the dish but is also beneficial for joint health and digestion. Lastly, the dish incorporates various vegetables that further contribute to the wholesome and nourishing nature of the meal – providing essential vitamins and minerals for overall health. In summary, indulging in a bowl of bulalo truly encompasses treating your taste buds and your body!

Health Benefits

“Bulalo” as a dish is truly remarkable and goes beyond being just a simple soup made from beef bone marrow. The intricacies of its flavors and the depth of its cultural significance are breathtaking. Its humble beginnings in rural communities serve as a testament to the importance of agriculture in Filipino culture, and its rise to prominence as a national dish shows how beloved it is by the people. Bulalo embodies the warmth, hospitality, and rich history of Filipino culture. It is not just a dish but also a work of culinary art that has stood the test of time and has brought comfort to countless Filipinos. Therefore, the next time you are lucky enough to sit down and indulge in a hearty bowl of bulalo, take a moment to appreciate the journey it has taken to become the beloved dish it is today.

Bulalo is a labor of love, but the effort is well worth it once you taste the rich and comforting flavors of this beloved Filipino dish. Enjoy it with your loved ones and embrace the heartwarming experience it brings.

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Paksiw na Bangus

Paksiw na Bangus is a dish enjoyed by generations of Filipinos and is considered a classic of native cuisine. It is an exquisite dish made by cooking milkfish, a cherished local fish, in a special mixture of vinegar, garlic, ginger, and other herbs and spices. The combination of various ingredients provides a unique, tangy flavor that tantalizes the taste buds, leaving you craving more. This dish is a perfect representation of traditional Filipino cooking that prides itself on bold and intense flavors. Many households across the country have their own secret recipes handed down over generations, but the basic ingredients remain the same, giving this dish a sense of familiarity, community, and culture. If you want to savor the true taste of the Philippines, we have prepared a simple recipe guide to making this classic dish in the comfort of your own home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bangus (milkfish), scaled, gutted, and cut into serving pieces
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (cane or white vinegar)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 2-3 pieces of green finger chilies (siling haba), sliced (optional, adjust to your preferred level of spiciness)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (patis)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (adjust according to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Banana leaves or aluminum foil (optional, for wrapping the fish)

Instructions:

  1. If you have a whole bangus, prepare it by scaling, gutting, and cutting it into serving pieces. If you prefer boneless bangus, you can ask your fish vendor to do this for you or buy boneless bangus fillets.

  2. Optional step: Rinse the bangus pieces with vinegar and water to remove any fishy odor. Pat them dry with paper towels.

  3. In a pot or deep pan, sauté the garlic, ginger, and onions in a little cooking oil until the onions become translucent and aromatic.

  4. Add the vinegar, water, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, whole peppercorns, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir everything together and bring it to a simmer.

  5. Add the bangus pieces to the pot, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. If you want to enhance the flavor and aroma, you can wrap the fish in banana leaves before placing them in the pot. This step is optional, but it adds a nice touch to the dish.

  6. Cover the pot and let the paksiw simmer over medium heat. Allow it to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked and tender. Be careful not to overcook the bangus to avoid it from becoming dry and flaky.

  7. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning according to your preference. You can add more sugar if you want it sweeter or more vinegar if you want it tangier. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Add the sliced green chilies (siling haba) to the pot if you want some spiciness in your paksiw. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

  9. Once the fish is cooked and the flavors have melded, remove the pot from the heat.

  10. Serve the paksiw na bangus hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Note: Paksiw na Bangus is even tastier when allowed to sit for a while, allowing the flavors to develop further. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, making it a perfect dish for leftovers.