Bulalo: Beef Shank Stew

When the blue sky is hidden in cloud cover or when the sound of raindrops echoes from within your rain gutter, what a better way to lift up your spirits than by having a warm pot of soup or stew sitting on top of your oven, ready for the taking.  On cold December nights or monsoon days in the Philippines, many households are sure to cook up bulalo, a tasty soup or stew made from beef shanks and bone marrow. Consumed as a soup or poured over a bowl of steamed rice, bulalo is sure to warm sore throats while teasing the palate with flavorful tender meat and vegetables.  Preparing this dish is a bit more tedious than cooking regular soups because the secret to this great stew is its clear soup.  Boiling the meat involves double the process, but the meal will be twice the reward!


2 lbs beef shank with meat, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, quartered

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tsp, whole black peppercorn

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 fresh cabbage, quartered

2 cobs, fresh corn, sliced into thirds

1 bunch, baby bok choy, leaves separated

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsps fish sauce

18 cups water


In a large pot, boil 8 cups of water. Add the beef shank pieces and return to a boil. Continue boiling for about 10 minutes. Drain the meat and bones , discarding the liquid. Rinse the pot. Put back the meat and bones into the pot, along with the onions, garlic, peppercorns and fish sauce.  Pour 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 1 to 1.5  hours until the meat is tender when pinched with a fork.  Skim off any excessive fat or residue from the top .

Add the corn and potatoes and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the corn is cooked and potatoes are tender when pinched with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the cabbage and bok choy during the last 3 minutes of cooking. If desired, discard whole peppercorns before serving.


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