Bulalo is a traditional Filipino food that has been around since the Spanish era (1565-1821).
It’s an easy yet delicious meal that can be made with just about anything in your pantry.
- What is bulalo?
- How is bulalo made?
- What are the ingredients in bulalo?
- How do you cook bulalo?
- What are the benefits of eating bulalo?
- What are the side effects of eating bulalo?
- How much bulalo should you eat per day?
- What are the different ways to eat bulalo?
- What are the different types of bulalo?
What Is Bulalo?
Bulalo is a meat stew cooked in coconut milk.
The word “bulalo” comes from the Tagalog language and means “to boil or fry.”
A bulalo recipe typically uses pork shoulder, but it can also use chicken breast or even beef brisket.
The main difference between bulalo recipes is how they season them – some include tomatoes, others don’t.
Some add carrots, while others leave them out entirely.
Bulalo isn’t like other stews because it doesn’t have beans, rice or pasta.
Instead, it’s mostly made up of vegetables, which makes it a healthier option than most stews.
It’s usually served on top of white rice, although there are many variations when it comes to serving this dish.
How Is Bulalo Made?
The most important part of making bulalo is the stock or soup base.
The type of meat used will determine which kind of bulalo it is.
For example, if you use beef then it’s called baka pata because the word “baka” means beef in Tagalog language.
Bulalo can also be made using chicken, pork, fish, or even vegetables like spinach.
When choosing what to add into the stock, remember that the more flavors you put in there, the better the taste.
To make the stock, start by boiling water on high heat until it starts to boil.
Once the water boils, turn down the heat to medium low so that the water doesn’t come to a rolling boil.
Put all the spices in a large bowl or pot.
Then pour in some cold water to cover them completely.
Let the mixture sit overnight at room temperature.
In the morning, strain the liquid from the spices and discard the solid pieces that were left behind.
Next, cut up whatever meats you want to include in the stock.
You can either get them already cooked or raw depending on how long you plan on cooking the bulalo.
If you choose to go the route of getting them raw, place them inside a large bowl and submerge them in ice cubes to cool them off.
After they have cooled down, drain the excess water and chop them up as finely as possible.
When all the meat is chopped up, mix them together along with the other ingredients in the bowl or pot.
Add half of the water into this.
Bring everything to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly so that none of the liquids separate out.
Cook for 30 minutes, then let it rest for 15 minutes before straining again through a fine mesh sieve.
Once the liquid has been strained, transfer it back into a clean container.
Now comes the fun part! Place the remaining water, salt, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and onion powder/pepper in another clean bowl or pot.
Stir well until everything is dissolved.
Pour the stock back into the first bowl and stir in the dissolved ingredients.
Cook over medium heat while continuously stirring until the liquid begins to bubble.
Remove from the stove once it has reached a slow boil.
After 10 minutes, take the bulalo off the fire, remove the lid, and set aside.
Cover the surface of the bulalo with aluminum foil and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once the bulalo is fully cooled, open the packet and enjoy!
What Are The Ingredients In Bulalo?
To make this soup, all you need are vegetables, meat or fish, noodles, rice, and coconut milk.
You may also add salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, chili peppers, turmeric, tamarind, soy sauce, vinegar, and other seasonings as desired.
The only thing that you cannot use in making bulalo is chicken.
If you want to enjoy that particular taste, then you will have to order it from outside restaurants.
If you don’t like seafood, you can substitute it with ground beef or pork.
The main difference between bulalo recipes is how long they take to prepare.
Some require hours while others take minutes.
However, if you have time on hand, you can always go ahead with the longer version.
You can use whatever kind of vegetable you wish to include in bulalo.
Just remember to cut them into bite size pieces so that they fit well inside each bowl when served.
Some common vegetables used in bulalo are carrots, cabbage, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, green peas, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, sweet potato, bell pepper, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, coriander leaves, mint, kale, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots.
There are many kinds of meats that you can choose to put in bulalo, such as shrimp, squid, crabmeat, octopus, lobster, mussels, clams, salmon, tilapia, sardines, tuna, codfish, mackerel, prawns, scallops, sea bass, snapper, grouper, eel, frog legs, and freshwater catfish.
When cooking these items, first clean them thoroughly before chopping them up.
Any type of noodle can work for bulalo.
Noodles come in various shapes and sizes.
They can either be flat, round, square, triangular or curly.
White basmati rice is what I usually use whenever I am putting together my own bulalo recipe.
But brown rice would also do.
This is one ingredient that you won’t find in every grocery store.
If you live near a market where coconuts are sold, then you can buy fresh coconuts at reasonable prices.
Otherwise, you can purchase canned coconut milk instead.
Either way, you will not regret buying coconut milk because it adds so much flavor to bulalo.
Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Garlic, Lemongrass, Ginger, Chili Peppers, Tamarind, Soy Sauce, Vinegar, and Other Seasonings
These are some of the spices that you should definitely try adding to bulalo.
These ingredients provide extra flavor to the broth, which makes everything more delicious.
How Do You Cook Bulalo?
The first step in cooking bulalo is to soak the meat in water overnight so it will absorb more flavors from the marinade.
After soaking, drain off all excess liquid and then add the meat back into the pot along with the onions, garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, pepper, ginger, and vinegar.
Bring everything to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the meat starts falling apart.
The bulalo is ready when the vegetables soften but still hold their shape.
The final step is to serve the bulalo on top of rice or ube noodles, which gives it some extra texture and a nice bite.
Tips for making bulalo
If you want to make sure your bulalo comes out perfectly every time, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use fresh herbs instead of dried ones – Herbs like basil and cilantro lose most of their flavor after drying, especially if they have tough stems.
If you use them, chop them up very finely before adding them to the pot.
Make sure there is enough oil in the pan – When you’re sautéing meats, it’s important to coat the bottom of the pan with oil so the meat doesn’t stick.
You don’t need too much because you only need a thin layer to prevent the meat from sticking.
Do not overcrowd the pan – Bulalo is meant to be cooked slowly, so always place one ingredient at a time in the pan.
Doing this ensures maximum exposure to the heat and prevents the other ingredients from burning.
When using tomatoes, always peel them first – Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene that helps fight cancer.
However, this compound is destroyed by exposing it to high temperatures, so it’s best to remove it before boiling it.
Add water as needed – Water is essential to bulalo.
Without it, the meat won’t get tender.
Adding just 1/4 cup of water to the pot is usually enough to achieve tenderness.
Once the bulalo is done, strain the mixture through a colander and discard the onion skins, tomato seeds, and bay leaf.
Serve the bulalo on top of white rice or ube noodles.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Bulalo?
If you love meaty dishes like beef or chicken, then bulalo will make you happy! Bulalo is typically eaten as a main course but it also makes great appetizers and snacks.
It’s a popular food because it contains all of these essential nutrients that we need every day:
Calcium – This mineral helps build strong bones and teeth
Phosphorus – Helps maintain healthy blood levels
Iron – Helps keep our body tissues strong
Zinc – Helps keep skin healthy and boosts immunity
Vitamin B12 – The only vitamin that doesn’t come from foods, so if you don’t get enough this nutrient, you could suffer from nervousness, fatigue, depression, and irritability
You may have heard of bulalo being linked to high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
But there isn’t really evidence linking bulalo to those health problems.
In fact, eating bulalo regularly can help prevent some diseases such as heart disease.
So, what exactly is bulalo? Let’s go over how to prepare it next.
The History of Bulalo
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Bulalo?
There isn’t really one main ingredient or method used to make this delicacy.
The key to making it right is having all the correct spices and flavors together.
Bulalo recipes vary from region to region but most have similar ingredients and methods.
The most common ingredients include beef stock, rice, chicken stock, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, pepper, salt, sugar, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, paprika, eggplant, coconut milk, and banana leaf.
There are many other ingredients used as well depending on where the recipe originates from.
Depending on how you prepare the bulalo, there might be slight differences in the way it tastes.
Some people prefer their bulalo slightly spicy while others like theirs very mild.
You may want more vegetables in some cases, and less meat or vice versa.
If you don’t mind getting creative then add whatever you would like to the pot when cooking.
But if you aren’t comfortable playing with the recipe at home, you can always ask someone else to create it for you!
How Much Bulalo Should You Eat Per Day?
The recommended amount of bulalo for adults is two servings daily.
One serving equals one bowl or plate of rice covered with a generous portion of steaming bulalo.
You may add more if you like it spicy, but avoid adding too many peppers as they will overwhelm the flavor of the meat.
If you don’t want to make bulalo from scratch, there are also many ready-made products available on grocery store shelves.
Some are frozen while others come canned, which makes them easier to prepare at home.
If you choose to use commercial versions, check out our list of best bulalo brands here.
What Are The Different Ways To Eat Bulalo?
You can make this meal at home by using some of your favorite spices or even buying it from your local market.
You can also buy it pre-made so you don’t have to worry about preparing it yourself.
Here are all the ways you can enjoy bulalo:
A common way to eat bulalo is on top of steamed white rice.
The rice absorbs the flavors of the soup while maintaining its texture and keeping the meal warm until you finish eating.
If you prefer pasta over rice, then you can use them as well.
Just boil water and add one cup of uncooked instant noodles such as spaghetti, udon, ramen, egg noodles, etc.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then, pour the hot broth into the pot where the noodles were boiled.
Once they start boiling again, stir them around to ensure that each noodle gets cooked evenly.
If you want to add meat to the mix, you may sauté it first before adding it to the noodles.
On top of fried chicken
Another great way to eat bulalo is on top of fried chicken.
To prepare this meal, cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
Heat up oil in a pan and fry the chicken pieces until golden brown.
Remove the chicken from heat and transfer to paper towels to drain excess fat.
Pour the remaining grease back to the pan and reduce the temperature slightly.
Now, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, and then let it cook down for another 5 minutes.
Finally, remove the lid and add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, starfruit, and mushrooms.
Let everything cook together for another few minutes.
Put the chicken back to the pot and serve immediately.
As a side dish
This is probably the easiest option because you only need two bowls: one bowl containing the bulalo broth and the other with the shredded beef.
To make it, take half of the beef cubes and put them in the bottom bowl.
Then, pour in enough broth to cover the beef completely.
Top it off with the rest of the beef cubes.
Sprinkle on some freshly ground black pepper and let the whole thing sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Now, turn the heat to medium and let it cook for 3 more minutes.
One of my favorite times to eat bulalo is when I wake up early in the morning.
Because there isn’t much time in between my shower and getting ready for work, breakfast becomes my last meal of the night.
Since bulalo doesn’t require cooking, I simply throw everything in the fridge and grab what I need for breakfast right after waking up.
Here’s how you can prep it:
First, wash your hands thoroughly.
Next, open the package of bulalo and slice it to fit the size of your plate.
Take out the beef slices and set aside.
In the same container, separate the onion, starfruit, garlic, and ginger.
Place the onion and the starfruit in separate bowls.
Chop the garlic and ginger finely and place them in a small jar.
Set these items aside.
Now, get your skillet ready.
Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into the pan and heat it on high heat.
When the oil starts smoking, carefully drop in the beef slices and sear them for 2 minutes on both sides.
Transfer them to a serving tray and repeat the process for the rest of the beef slices.
After all the beef is done, return the pan to the stove and add in the vegetables.
Cook them for another minute or so, stirring constantly so nothing burns.
Add the fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and chili paste.
Mix everything together well and continue to cook until most of the liquid evaporates.
Return the beef to the pan and toss to coat with the mixture.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle fresh black pepper on top.
Since bulalo comes in many varieties, you can change it up depending on what you like best.
For example, if you love spicy foods, you can always add extra red chili flakes to the mix.
And if you really crave for sweet flavors, consider sprinkling crushed pineapple chunks on top instead of oyster sauce.
What Are The Different Types Of Bulalo?
The most common form of bulalo is called “Binangal na Bulalo” or literally translated as ‘stirred up bulalo’.
The original version was cooked by stirring it constantly until all its liquid evaporates into steam.
Another popular type of bulalo is called “Pinakbet ng Bulalo” which means “boiled bulalo”.
In this case, you take a pot of water and add salt.
You then let it boil over medium heat while adding chunks of meat.
Once the meat begins to float, you turn off the burner and remove the meat from the pot.
After letting it cool down, you cut it into bite-sized pieces.
You also have “Pulutan ng Bulalo” which translates to “mixing up bulalo”.
Here, you combine ground beef, pork liver, rice flour, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onion, and other spices together.
Then, you fry them on low heat until they become crispy.
Finally, you mix them up again before serving.
There’s another type of bulalo called “Bagoong Bulalo” which translates to “fish bulalo”.
Instead of using ground beef, you use fish heads, tails, bones, skin, and fins.
The only difference between Bagoong Bulalo and Pinakbet ng Bulalo is that you need to soak the meat first.
And instead of frying them, you need to simmer them in coconut milk overnight.
How Do You Choose The Best Bulalo Recipe?
There are so many recipes out there for bulalo, but not all of them will give you a good taste.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that you pick one from reliable sources like Food Network Philippines or Pinoy Living Magazine.
These two sites have tons of information on how to prepare this classic Filipino food.
Here are some tips when searching for the right bulalo recipe:
- Check if it’s gluten free.
- Make sure that the recipe uses quality meat.
- Look at the cooking time because most people usually prefer their meals to be ready within 30 minutes.
- Read reviews before making the decision.
One of the first things that you need to consider when choosing a bulalo recipe is what type of meat to use.
There are three main kinds of meat that you can put into this flavorful dish: beef, chicken, and pork.
If you want something more exotic, you could try using seafood such as squid, shrimp, octopus, fish balls, or even crab legs.
You can also mix up meats together to create new flavors.
- pressure cooker
- 2 lbs beef shank
- ½ cabbage whole leaf individually detached
- 1 bundle bok choy
- 2 cobs corn each cut into 3 parts
- 2 Tablespoons whole peppercorn
- 1/2 cup green onions cut unto 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 onion
- 34 ounces water
- fish sauce to taste optional
- Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Place the beef shank in the pot, followed by the onion and whole pepper corn, and cook for 1.5 hours (30 minutes if using a pressure cooker) or until the meat is tender.
- Cook for another 10 minutes after adding the corn.
- Combine the fish sauce, cabbage, pechay, and green onion in a mixing bowl (onion leeks)
- Serve immediately. Enjoy and share!