Imagine a long day of work and a stressful commute, but when you finally come home, there’s a massive pot of Bulalo in the kitchen; and suddenly, in just a single colossal slurp, all your stress has magically disappeared. That scene does exist in advertisements or movies, however in the world that we live in, a mystery cauldron of Bulalo cannot just appear in front of you. Nevertheless, it won’t take a superpower to learn how to cook Bulalo!
Through this article, we will guide you on how to make Bulalo and provide you tips and other relevant facts that may come in handy in your kitchen operations. Thereby, you can apply your learnings by preparing this heartwarming dish as a love language to your loved ones.
What is Bulalo
So first, we will briefly orient you to what Bulalo is and what makes it different from other similar dishes in the Philippines.
Bulalo is a Filipino beef-based soup dish made by boiling beef marrow and shanks for a long duration until all the fat has melted into the broth. This dish is not complete without vegetables such as cabbage, corn, potatoes, scallions, ginger, onion, and garlic. The direct translation of Bulalo in English is beef shank soup or Filipino beef marrow stew.
It is believed that this hearty soup originated in Southern Luzon. It explains why your Batangas or Tagaytay trip would not be complete if you will not dine in a Bulaluhan (Filipino 101: a place that serves Bulalo). Funnily enough, your mom might stop by to buy some beef cuts just to serve Bulalo for dinner when you arrive home.
Moreover, a meat-based broth meal is a standard part of the Filipino diet. One of the most known varieties is Nilaga (which comes in many forms: pork, fish, and beef). Yet, the only difference of the Beef Nilaga with Bulalo is that the latter has corn and that it specifically uses the beef marrow as a major component of the dish while the former does not. In addition, other recipes similar to Bulalo are prepared in different parts of the Philippines, such as the Western Visayan Cansi (beef stew soured with batuan fruit), Central Visayan Pochero (beef stew with tomato sauce) and the Tausug dish Tiyula Itum (black bulalo).
Even just thinking about eating Bulalo is already invigorating and outright relaxing. It makes this beautiful beef broth meal a certified comfort food. What’s also great is that you won’t have to go to Tagaytay just to enjoy a mouthwatering bowl when you can easily prepare it at home!
How To Cook the Beef Shank Soup
In this part, we will specifically discuss the ingredients for making a Bulalo soup, the procedures as well as the calorie contents.
Cooking the Bulalo Soup and its Recipe
Make sure to have these goods on stand by so you can prepare Bulalo at your home anytime! Since it is usually served for a large group or a family, our target amount of serving will be right for 4-5 people. We will add an extra bowl of serving if you want to share it with your neighbor.
- Bone-in shank - The beef cut used for the dish will be the bone-in shank, which is the front leg of the cow. Because this is the most strained muscle part of the animal, the meat tends to be tough and sinewy hence requiring longer cooking time as done for preparing Bulalo. You may specifically request the specific Bulalo cut for the shank to your local butcher.
- Onions - The primary aromatic that will be used are onions, specifically the purple ones. Fun fact: onions develop luscious flavor only until their cells are damaged through slicing, cutting, chopping, and cooking. Please be reminded that this dish does not call for garlic as we are not aiming for the nutty and strong flavor here.
- Whole Peppercorn - A pinch of peppercorn is necessary for that slightly spicy kick. This seasoning is precisely what you need to add some fiery twist minus the pungent taste.
- Salt - This is a primary flavoring agent and enhancer for almost all the dishes in the world. Just remember that when adding salt to the broth, you must wait until the end of the cooking process because the soup will still boil and evaporate; hence the amount of liquid will even reduce.
- Corn - Adding corn will add substance to the dish. The cobs will impart a sweet and pleasant taste in the soup and will surely make you full.
- Cabbage - This vegetable has a sweet taste when cooked well. In case you are cutting food intake, here’s simple advice: once you have eaten an ample amount of cabbage in your Bulalo, start drinking water as the cabbage will swell and stretch your stomach.
- Bok Choy - This is a type of Chinese cabbage that gives off a pleasant aroma and has a slightly sweet, mildly bitter, and mustard-like taste.
- Baguio Beans or Green Bean- This veggie will add a fresh aftertaste to the soup hence making it more comforting to eat. To add, the texture and turgidity of Baguio beans will make eating Bulalo more enjoyable.
Here are some tips that you have to keep in mind as you follow the provided procedure for making your dream Bulalo. These tips are arranged according to the order of the cooking procedure.
- Boiling the Soup - Do you want a new clear soup? To achieve this, employ a two boil technique (short boil to get rid of all impurities from the beef shank and long boil to release all the flavors from the marrow). You may also make use of a pressure cooker to save you about two-thirds of the actual cooking time.
- Ensuring well-cooked shanks - Take out the meat and bones when you don’t see any blood coming from the meat then rub under cold water to eliminate any scum. Then return the washed meat to the pot before adding the aromatics.
- Well cooked vegetables - The reason why you have to drop the vegetables in the soup during the last part of the cooking process is to avoid having them overcooked. You have to retain the freshness and the crisp texture of your greens.
- Salting - It is a major no-no for all soupy recipes to put salt in the earlier part of the cooking procedure. Wait for the soup to boil before you put the salt because the amount of water retained will be the exact amount of your soup.
Bulalo Soup Calories
Per the nutritional calculation of the dish, a serving of Bulalo (380 g) is equivalent to 447 Calories. The calorie breakdown of the dish is as follows: 28% fat, 0% carbohydrates, and 72% protein. From that, you can still add this to your meal plan even when you’re on keto!
No one would want to waste their time preparing for a dish and end up not enjoying the very fruit of their labor. Rest assured, we won’t let you go that road as we have here some troubleshooting advice that will prevent your attempt to de-stress into complete distress.
- Add water if the soup becomes too salty.
- If there is too much soup already that you can’t simply add some water to remedy the saltiness, you may add some potatoes as it will soak up the excess sodium. Just let it simmer for a while (about 5 minutes) and remove it as it has already done its job.
- To assure that the bone marrow is appropriately cooked, cut the shank longitudinally with the meat still attached.
Trivia: Benefits of Bulalo Ingredients
As if we still have to persuade you to prepare this dish, here are the nutritional benefits that you can get from the Bulalo ingredients. We are giving you another reason why you should have a bowlful of Bulalo as these facts will prove why it is excellent for you!
Beef meat - A fresh and lean beef meat is rich in a wide array of vitamins and minerals, primarily in iron and zinc. Moderate consumption of beef can be considered a healthy diet as it contains heart-healthy fats like those found in olive oil.
Bone marrow - In case you wonder if these delicious fatty pieces are right for you, bone marrow contains several compounds that promote good health such as glucosamine, glycine, and collagen. Research has also proven that the marrow can help decrease inflammation, achieve better skin health, and improve joint function.
Cabbage - Apart from being a member of the “green leafy collective” (an indie band name idea!), cabbage has an impressive profile as an exceptionally healthy food. This green bunch is high in vitamin C and vitamin K. Also, it can lessen the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, improve digestion, and aid you from inflammation.
Bok Choy - This variant of Chinese cabbage is proven to be rich in folate, vitamins C, A, and K, as well as in other minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. It makes a great source of nutrients yet low in calories, hence a must for a healthful diet.
Corn - Did you know that this plant is under a complex identity crisis? Corn is identified as a vegetable; however, it came from a seed derived from a flower hence also making it a fruit, yet its kernels, which you make into a popcorn, are considered a grain.
Anyway, this plant is rich in fiber that can aid digestion and improve eye health. In addition, it lessens your risk of anemia as it helps the body produce more red blood cells through its vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid contents. Since it is high in calories, this makes a good energy source and can gain weight while at the same time reduces cholesterol and blood sugar level.
Onions - These wonder bulbs have antioxidants that combat inflammation and reduce cholesterol hence lower your risk of heart disease. It can also reduce high blood pressure and prevent blood clots due to its high anti-inflammatory properties.
Bulalo Meat (meat near the bone)
It would be a mortal sin to use a boneless beef for Bulalo because that’s not what you came here for! The use of beef shank or hock is of primary imperative because of the bone, which adds flavor and juices into the meat and the entire dish. The primary source of that flavor comes from the marrow, which, when cooked, tastes like a savory butter and has a delicate texture.
Best Served With
Bulalo can be served as a starter (for its soup) or as a viand, which makes it a delightful pair to a wide selection of dishes.
- Lechon Kawali - Lechon Kawali is one of the Lechon variants made by deep-frying pork belly until it is crunchy and golden brown. Pairing this with Bulalo will make a devil-angel love affair. Imagine taking a hearty slurp of soup, then taking a greasy bite of this pork goodness, it’s just pure (delicious fat and) delight!
- Crispy Tawilis - This dish is also as versatile as our star soup as it can munch on it as an appetizer while you can also have it as a viand. It is made by coating Tawilis (freshwater sardine) in a batter made of cornstarch and water then deep-fried. The salty seafood taste of this fried dish, as well as the hard crunch, complements well with savory soup and sweet vegetables.
- Crispy Pata - This dish is prepared by deep-frying marinated pork hock. As also usually packaged in several restaurants, the beef stew-crispy Pata pairing will not disappoint. The crunchy and flavorful goodness of the pork will make a good selection with the soup the next time you are having a family lunch.
- Laing - This Bicolano special is made with shredded taro leaves cooked in thick spicy coconut milk. The spiciness of this dish will make you instantly slurp a big mouthful of soup and take a massive bite of steamed hot rice.
- Spicy Fish Sauce- Nothing can beat the spicy fish sauce as the best dip for your big serving of Bulalo. This ultimate “umami bomb” will release salty and pleasant savory taste to the broth, making each slurp more incredible than ever. Who needs a tap on the back when you can have this pairing?
- Spicy Gambas - In case you might want to venture out on some flavors. You may want to try pairing Bulalo with a hot and sizzling plate of shrimp. Nothing can go wrong with a plate of seafood!
It is no question that Bulalo is excellent comfort food, you can count on from a long journey, from a tiring day, and when you just feel like taking a brief pause from life’s complexity. There’s no loss in hoping that taking a bowlful can help you solve your problems. Hence, knowing how to cook a Bulalo is like possessing a healing power.
As you now know how to make Bulalo, there is no need for you to plan your next Tagaytay trip just to have a taste of it! So next time you or your loved ones feel down, you can just simply whip up the kitchen and cook the ultimate soup that aids all aches!
For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
- 1 pc Beef shank cut into desired sizes
- 1 pc Onion cut into 4 pieces
- ½ teaspoon Peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 12 cups Water
- 1 pc Corn cut into 4 slices
- 1 lb Cabbage
- 1 lb Bok choy
- 8 pcs Baguio beans
- In a casserole or big pot, boil beef shank with 12 cups of water, salt and peppercorn for 2 hours or wait until the meat is tender.Note: Lower the heat and skim the scum when boiling.
- Once the meat gets tender, add the corn and let it boil for another 15 minutes.
- Then put-in baguio beans and cook it for 10 minutes.
- Lastly, add the cabbage and bok choy and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Serve while hot!