Hi! How’s everyone doing? It’s been raining here in Singapore recently and the weather’s perfect for just lounging in bed…or for eating Nilagang Baka for lunch in my balcony.
Here’s a picture of my balcony, by the way. Gardening has taken up so much of my time lately, that I don’t get the chance to do anything else like, say, baking or food photography. Sorry! But I do think the end results justify the effort that I have put in.
Nilagang Baka, or Boiled Beef Soup, is the perfect dish for cold and gloomy days. The hot soup plus rice combination is unbeatable in warming up those lazy bones that often plague us during rainy days.
Nilagang Baka gets its name from the way the dish is cooked. Nilaga means boiled in Filipino. Quite literally, the various ingredients are boiled for a certain period of time. It doesn’t get easier than that, does it?
The recipe that I’m sharing with you today is the one that I’m most familiar with. I cook this at least once every time I go back home. Most of the stews and soups in my province are cooked by sautéing the onion and the garlic first. While I grew up doing the exact same thing, I felt that I should modify the recipe a little bit in order to remain faithful to its name. For this recipe, I skipped the sautéing and jumped right in to the boiling/pressure cooking of the beef.
One of my friends accused me of being partial to beef tails and I must admit that I am. It’s the best, the cheapest and the most relatively-easy-to-get alternative to bone-in beef cuts. If you live in the Philippines or somewhere close to a butcher shop, you can get some beef shanks or some similar cut of beef for your nilaga. I strongly advise against using beef cubes though; the extended boiling takes a toil on the texture of meat. Plus, you would really want the bones in for a fuller-flavored soup.
There are a number of ways to cook Nilagang Baka. The standard ingredients, aside from the beef, are potatoes and cabbages. I went the whole nine yards with this recipe – saba (cardava), camote (sweet potatoes), and baguio beans (french beans) are added as well.
On a side note, for those who aren’t familiar with saba, please don’t confuse it with your regular bananas. Saba is the thicker and fleshier cousin of the normal banana. It’s commonly used in Filipino recipes such as turon, banana cue, and pochero. If you can’t find saba where you are, you can just skip it. Just don’t ever use regular bananas because they’ll turn goopy from all the boiling.
Nilagang Baka has a distinct flavor that comes not only from the saltiness of the fish sauce, but also from the sweetness of the bananas and the sweet potatoes. I confess that my tastebuds tend to lean towards the stronger side, so I always use a fair amount of fish sauce. I also add a little bit of sugar to further enhance the subtle sweetness of the soup and to complement the salty flavor of the meat.
Serve Nilagang Baka with your favorite dipping sauce (fish sauce with a slice of calamansi for me) and rice. Have a happy lunch!
Craving for more Filipino food?
- The Softest Ever Pandesal (Filipino Bread Rolls)
- Delicious Filipino Spanish Bread
- Filipino Chicken Macaroni Salad