Nilagang Baka is the ultimate comfort food! This Filipino-style boiled soup with fork-tender beef shanks, tendon, and vegetables is hearty and tasty….
It has been raining a lot since this afternoon here in our neck of the forest, so I thought about updating the photos and republishing this nilagang baka recipe. Because, what better way to heat our bellies on a cold and rainy day than a plate of hot meat soup?
What is nilaga?
Nilaga, which means “pinakuluan” or “boiled,” refers to a type of Filipino soup of meat and vegetables where chunks of beef, pork or chicken are cooked in seasoned broth until tender. Quarter onions, peppercorns and fish sauce add flavor to the soup, while abundant local products such as potatoes, corn, cabbage, pechay, green beans (carrots) and carrots make it an abundant meal in a single pot
Adapted from Spanish stew, this boiled soup has taken root in the Filipino food culture as an epitome of homemade food. It is commonly prepared and enjoyed on rainy days to protect against the cold or on special meals on Sundays when the whole family meets in the ancestral home.
As with any good soup, the heart of this beef nilaga is the broth. To make sure it is clean and bright, take care of it closely, especially during the first few minutes, boil and rub religiously the foam that floats on top. Once it is free of foam, lower the heat and make sure it does not rise to more than a slow boil.
For a very clear broth, you can also take the extra step of bleaching the flesh and bones to help eliminate blood, clotted protein and any impurity that may cloud the broth. It is an optional step but makes a brighter broth.
In a pot over medium heat, bring enough water for the meat to boil. Carefully add the meat and bones and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the meat, discard the liquid and rinse the meat and the pot thoroughly. Return the meat rinsed in the pot, cover with cold water and continue cooking the soup as indicated in the recipe below.
What meat to use in the beef nilaga
For a gelatinous and full-body broth, use meat high in connective tissues, such as the spike and tendon. Hard, fibrous or bony cuts, such as breast, mandrel, round, ribs or neck bones, are also excellent options to make a tasty nilaga.
These cheaper and harder cuts of meat break down in the low and slow cooking process and become really tender when they spice up the soup.
How to serve Nilagang Baka
Although beef soup is a complete meal in itself and can be enjoyed alone, it is traditionally served with steamed rice along with patis (fish sauce) to dip succulent meat and tender and crispy vegetables. It is also customary to provide an additional portion of the hot broth in a separate cup or bowl to sip while eating the food.