What Is Bulalo?

what is bulalo the bailiwick academy

As of this writing, it’s the rainy season in the Philippines. And when it comes to hearty, comforting Filipino dishes during this wet and cold period, there are few that can rival bulalo. But what is bulalo, exactly?

Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article—keep on reading!

So… what IS bulalo?

Bulalo is one of the many traditional Filipino soup dishes that has beef as its main ingredient. There are many variants of this beef soup dish, but generally, making it consists of boiling beef shanks and marrow bones for several hours. Doing this lets you extract all the flavor and tenderness from your ingredients.

When you’re done with the process, the result is a robust broth that is packed with rich, savory goodness, thanks to the fall-of-the-bone tender meat and vegetables.

What is bulalo called in English?

In English, bulalo is “bone marrow stew” or “beef bone marrow stew.” Doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue nicely, right?

Why is it called bulalo?

Filipinos like to keep things simple, which is probably why they just named this Filipino dish after its main ingredient: beef shanks. Beef shanks are a special cut of beef that includes both the leg bone and the meat around it.

Because the legs are used a lot, beef shanks can be tough and dry. However, inside the bone, there’s a juicy treat of collagen and fat-filled marrow. To bring out the amazing flavors, bulalo is cooked slowly in moist heat.

What is bulalo’s history?

So where did bulalo come about, exactly? Or who started making bulalo soup?

Well, according to Yummy.ph, you can trace the origins of this Filipino beef to the Southern Luzon area, specifically in Batangas. Apparently, back in the 16th century, Spaniards and Chinese traders brought cattle to the Philippines, and made Batangas all about cattle trade and a source of plenty of beef dishes. That’s probably the reason why Filipinos generally associate Batangas with bulalo. 

Lately, though, Tagaytay is now also known for this beef recipe, not just for buko pie as pasalubong. It makes sense, since Tagaytay is nearer, also has a colder climate, and has a nice view of the Taal volcano. 

Of course, now, you don’t have to go far away to eat some bulalo. You can buy this in various restaurants or even cook bulalo at home.

What are the ingredients of bulalo?

To make one of the best soup recipes ever, you’ll need the following ingredients aside from beef shanks:

Marrow Bone

As mentioned above, marrow bones are an essential component of bulalo. These bones, rich in collagen and fat, contribute to the richness and depth of flavor in the soup. When simmered for an extended period, the marrow melts into the broth, resulting in a decadent taste that will keep you coming back for seconds!

Sweet Corn

Sweet corn is a popular addition to the soup, thanks to the sweetness of the corn complementing the savory flavors of the broth and meat. You’ll also get an additional delightful crunch and texture!

Bok Choy

Bok choy, a leafy and vibrant green vegetable, is often added to bulalo towards the end of the cooking process. In the Philippines, it’s known as pechay. The crisp texture of its leaves also provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and meaty elements of the soup.

Other Ingredients

Since this is the Philippines, we’re not content with just the usual bulalo recipe ingredients. That’s why you might spot variations in bulalo, like adding black pepper, bagoong alamang, bay leaves, onion leeks, green onions, garlic, and Chinese cabbage. These ingredients all add complexity and depth to the flavor profile.

What is the difference between bulalo and nilaga?

So if you look at the ingredients, you might wonder how bulalo is different from other beef dishes like beef nilaga and cansi. Well, one major difference of bulalo and nilaga is the kind of beef used—nilaga uses beef chunks.

As for cansi, while it is also made from beef shank and bone marrow, it is slightly soured with fruits. It’s actually cooked sinigang na bulalo at times. The soup is also different in color and is cooked with ingredients like tomatoes, patis or fish sauce, and even siling labuyo.

How do you cook bulalo?

Cooking bulalo is a slow and meticulous cooking process. The broth is simmered for hours, allowing the flavors to meld together and intensify. The long cooking time ensures that the beef becomes tender and the flavors reach their full potential.

Of course, before anything else, make sure to clean the beef shanks first by boiling them for 10 minutes. After that, submerge the clean shanks in water in your cooking pot over medium heat. When it boils, remove any scum that rises to the surface.

When the broth clears up, you can place the smaller ingredients. This is where patience comes in: you’ll have to let it simmer for hours, or at least until the meat falls off the bone. That means it’s tender.

You can then add the corn and bigger ingredients, then cover your pot. Let it simmer until all ingredients are softer, then you’re done!

How do you serve bulalo?

For best results, serve this soup recipe hot and freshly made. Speaking of best, eat it with hot rice!

Are there any bulalo variations?

Actually, there are more than just the usual classic bulalo. You can discover them in The Bailiwick Academy’s class by Chef Anthony Ang: WOW, Bulalo!

When you enroll, you’ll discover Chef Anthony’s methods for making THREE recipes out of a single cut of meat:

  • Real Beef Bulalo Soup, his version of bulalo beef recipe. You’ll get a rich and savory broth with tender chunks of meat that melt in your mouth with every spoonful. You’ll understand why this Filipino classic is a beloved favorite!
  • Kalderetang Bulalo, a robust and fiery fusion of bulalo and beef kaldereta. You’ll get a delicious mix of spices and vegetables that goes well with the succulent meat.
  • Sizzling Bulalo with Gravy—yes, a sizzling bulalo dish is possible! Sear the meat to perfection and pour some thick gravy over it too! We bet you’ll get more than one bowl of rice for this!

And whether you’ve been cooking for a long time, or you just want to start cooking bulalo at home, this course is for you. Just follow Chef Anthony’s cooking tips and you’ll be well on your way to bulalo success.

You can even start a food business with this class—make your store be the NEW bulalo destination! Sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today now and cook up some today!

Final Thoughts

There you have it: a peek in to the wonderful world of bulalo! As we mentioned above, when the rainy season hits the Philippines, nothing beats this hearty and comforting soup dish with its fall-off-the-bone tender meat, flavorful broth, and delicious mix of ingredients.

And whether you enjoy the classic bulalo or try out the other bulalo beef recipes, you’re in for a mouthwatering adventure!

So why wait? Grab your ingredients, cook up a storm, and make your taste buds dance with joy!


Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!

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