Friday, August 15, 2014

Nilagang Baka

Nilagang baka literally means boiled beef.  Of course the dish is not merely just beef that's boiled.  It's actually a soup made with beef, simmered for a long time (in my case the whole night in the magic cooker), with carrots, potatoes and native white corn.

How's this different from bulalo?  Well, I don't really know, but from what I understand, the main difference is the cut of beef used.  In bulalo, the bone marrow is essential, so the cut used for bulalo is the shank part.  And when I was very young, the soup was made using one big piece of meaty bone beginning the kneecap (or thereabouts, if I remember correctly) as the closed end and the other end as the open one, from where we would try to coax out the marrow using a chopstick or barbecue stick.  Anyway, for any other cut of beef, it's nilaga.

Personally, I've always thought that bone-y parts make better soup than meaty parts.  But obviously, the bones cannot be eaten, so some meat has to be present too.  What I usually do is get about half a kilo of bones (in our nearby market, the kneecap is sold separately and at a friendlier price) and half a kilo of brisket (or other meaty part).

Here's a bowl of my nilaga! 

The recipe:
1/2 kilo beef bones
1/2 kilo beef brisket (or other meaty part suitable for stewing)
6 slices of ginger
1 large red onion, halved

4 pieces of native corn, sliced into 3 to pieces each
1/2 kilo potatoes, cut into large cubes
about 1 large carrot, cut into large cubes
Baguio pechay, or pechay tagalog

Parboil the beef and bones.  Discard water, clean the pot and rinse the beef.  Put back the beef bones and beef into the pot; put in the ginger and onion.  Add enough water to cover the beef at least an inch.  Simmer at least 3 to 4 hours (until beef is tender, in my case I left it in the magic cooker overnight).  Add the corn after about 2 hours and continue simmering.  When the beef is tender, transfer the beef and corn to another pot.  Strain the broth/soup to the new pot and place back on the stove and bring to a soft boil.  Season to taste.  Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer until cooked.  Then add the pechay, cover and turn off the fire.

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