Bulalo Recipe

The Origins of Bulalo

Bulalo, a celebrated stew from Southern Luzon’s cattle farms in the Philippines, epitomizes the resourcefulness of local farmers. Coined from the Tagalog word for “bone marrow,” this bulalo recipe transforms less popular beef cuts into a comfort food that has become a hallmark of Filipino culinary tradition. It showcases the locals’ ability to create rich, flavorful dishes that welcome everyone to the table with open arms.

Dive into the Bulalo recipe, a Filipino classic with tender beef and flavorful marrow. Perfect for family dinners and festive gatherings.

Essential Ingredients for Bulalo

The heart of a truly authentic bulalo lies in its ingredients. Each component is carefully chosen to create a symphony of flavors that define this classic Filipino stew. From the richness of the marrow to the freshness of the produce, every element has a role to play. Let’s delve into the essentials that make bulalo a beloved dish across the Philippines and beyond.

Meat Selection Choosing the right cut of meat is crucial for bulalo. The beef shank, with its balance of meat and bone, is the star of the dish. It’s essential to look for shanks with a generous amount of connective tissue and bone. As the shank simmers, these parts break down and enrich the broth, giving it body and a deeply satisfying flavor. The meat itself becomes tender, absorbing the spices and seasonings, making every bite a testament to the dish’s hearty nature.
Bone Marrow’s Role Bone marrow, the soul of bulalo, imparts a luxurious richness to the broth. This coveted delicacy not only provides a velvety texture but also contributes to the stew’s hearty and robust profile. As the marrow slowly melts into the broth, it creates a layer of flavor that is both subtle and profound. The role of marrow goes beyond taste; it’s a cultural experience, with diners often vying for the chance to scoop out the creamy marrow from the bones—a true Filipino dining delight.
Vegetables and Spices Vegetables and spices are the supporting cast that complements the meat and marrow. Corn on the cob adds sweetness, while leafy greens like bok choy or cabbage contribute a slight bitterness and a crunch. Potatoes or Chinese cabbage can be included to absorb the flavors and add substance. The spices remain simple: usually just whole black peppercorns and onions, allowing the natural flavors of the main ingredients to shine. Together, these vegetables and spices create a balance, making bulalo not just a dish but a complete meal.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide

Crafting the perfect bulalo is akin to a dance—a series of deliberate steps that, when performed with care, result in a dish that’s both nourishing and comforting. This guide will walk you through the essential phases of preparing bulalo, from the initial preparation of ingredients to the final touches that ensure a stew of perfect consistency and flavor.

Preparing the Ingredients The first step in the bulalo journey is to prepare your ingredients with precision. Begin by cleaning the beef shank and marrow bones under cold running water to remove any debris. Then, gather your vegetables, peeling and chopping them as needed. For spices, measure out the peppercorns and slice the onions. This mise en place, or setup, is crucial as it ensures a smooth cooking process, allowing you to focus on the flavors and textures that will develop as the dish cooks.
The Cooking Process With your ingredients ready, the cooking process begins. Place the beef shank and marrow bones in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. This step is vital for a clear, clean-tasting broth. After simmering the meat to tenderness, add the tougher vegetables that require more cooking time. The spices go in next, infusing the broth with their essence. The final addition is the more delicate vegetables, which cook until just tender, preserving their color and nutrients.
Tips for Perfect Consistency Achieving the perfect consistency in bulalo requires attention to detail. One key tip is to simmer the stew gently; a vigorous boil can break down the proteins too much, resulting in a cloudy broth. Another tip is to monitor the level of liquid, adding hot water as needed to maintain the balance of flavors. Lastly, taste as you go and adjust the seasoning with salt or fish sauce to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients. With patience and these tips, you’ll create a bulalo with a rich, full-bodied broth and tender, flavorful meat.

Bulalo Recipe

  1. Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds beef shanks with marrow bones
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (patis)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 3 corn on the cob, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 saba bananas, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 small Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 pieces ripe saba bananas, peeled and halved
  • Fish sauce or salt to taste
  • Patis (fish sauce) and calamansi or lemon for dipping
  1. In a large pot, combine beef shanks, water, onion, garlic, fish sauce, salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 to 2.5 hours or until the beef is fork-tender and the broth is rich and flavorful. Skim off any scum that floats on the surface.
  3. Add more water as needed to maintain the initial level.
  4. Season with salt or fish sauce to taste.
  5. Add corn and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add saba bananas and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
  7. Add potatoes and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until softened.
  8. Add cabbage and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted.
  9. Serve hot with fish sauce or calamansi for dipping. Enjoy your delicious Bulalo!

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes | Servings: 4-6

Nutritional Information

Understanding the nutritional content of bulalo is essential for those who love this dish and want to enjoy it as part of a balanced diet. While bulalo is undeniably rich and flavorful, it’s also worth considering its health benefits and caloric content to appreciate fully how this traditional stew fits into your nutritional goals.

Health Benefits Bulalo’s primary ingredients, beef shank and bone marrow, are rich in proteins and minerals like iron and zinc, which are crucial for muscle development and immune function. The collagen released from the bones during the long simmering process is beneficial for skin and joint health. Additionally, the variety of vegetables included in the recipe provides dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, making bulalo not just a comforting bowl of goodness but also a meal that can contribute positively to your overall health when consumed in moderation.
Caloric Content While bulalo offers several health benefits, it is also relatively high in calories. The beef shank and bone marrow contribute to its rich flavor and high energy content. A single serving can be quite calorie-dense, especially when considering the additional fat content from the marrow. However, when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and in appropriate portion sizes, bulalo can be a satisfying meal that provides the body with much-needed nutrients and energy. It’s all about balance and moderation, allowing you to savor this delicious dish while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Storing and Reheating Tips

Proper storage and reheating are crucial for maintaining the taste and safety of bulalo. Whether you’re savoring leftovers or preparing the stew ahead of time, these tips will help you enjoy your bulalo at its best even after the initial feast.

Best Practices For optimal freshness, store bulalo in airtight containers within two hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth. Refrigerate it, and it should keep well for up to three days. When reheating, do so gently over low heat to bring the stew to the desired temperature without overcooking the meat or vegetables. If the broth has solidified due to the cooled fats, it will return to liquid form and re-integrate into the stew as it warms, restoring the rich flavor profile of the bulalo.
Common Mistakes A common mistake when storing bulalo is leaving it at room temperature for too long, which can invite foodborne illnesses. Another error is reheating the stew multiple times, which can deteriorate the quality of the ingredients and potentially lead to food safety issues. Always reheat only the portion you plan to consume. Additionally, avoid microwaving bulalo as a first option, as this can unevenly heat the dish and affect its texture. Instead, reheat it on the stove where you can stir occasionally and ensure even warming.

Eating Bulalo: A Cultural Experience

Indulging in bulalo is more than just enjoying a meal; it’s an immersive experience that reflects the rich tapestry of Filipino culture. This dish is not only a culinary delight but also a social ritual that brings people together, embodying the communal spirit and the warm hospitality that the Philippines is known for.

Dining Etiquette When it comes to eating bulalo, there’s a shared etiquette that enhances the experience. It’s customary to enjoy the dish family-style, gathered around a large pot that invites everyone to dig in. Using a separate bowl, diners typically serve themselves the broth and pieces of meat, often customizing their bowl with various condiments like fish sauce, calamansi, and chili. It’s also a common practice to offer the prized marrow to guests as a sign of respect and generosity. Sharing bulalo is not just about sharing food; it’s about sharing moments and creating memories.
Bulalo in Filipino Culture Bulalo holds a special place in the hearts of Filipinos. It’s a dish that signifies comfort and is often associated with festive occasions and intimate family gatherings. In Filipino culture, bulalo is more than sustenance; it’s a symbol of homecoming and celebration. Whether served in the humblest of homes or the grandest of feasts, bulalo represents a culinary heritage that Filipinos proudly share with each other and the world. It’s a dish that tells a story of the Philippines’ history, its regional diversity, and the warmth of its people.

Where to Find the Best Bulalo ?

The quest for the best bulalo can become a culinary adventure, leading you through bustling cities, quaint towns, and everything in between. In the Philippines, this dish is a proud reflection of local flavors and cooking expertise, with each establishment offering its unique take on the classic recipe.

Top Restaurants and Eateries In the Philippines, top restaurants and eateries take pride in their bulalo, often claiming to have the best version of this beloved dish. Cities like Tagaytay and Batangas are famed for their bulalo, with restaurants boasting views of the Taal Volcano while serving steaming pots of the stew. These establishments typically use locally sourced beef and bone marrow, simmering their bulalo for hours to achieve a rich and flavorful broth that has diners coming back for more.
Hidden Gems Across the Philippines Beyond the well-known eateries, the Philippines is dotted with hidden gems where bulalo is served. These are often family-run businesses that have perfected their recipes over generations. From roadside carinderias to market stalls, these places might not have the grandeur of high-end restaurants, but they offer bulalo with a depth of flavor that speaks to the culinary soul of the region. Discovering these hidden gems often requires a tip from a local or an adventurous spirit, but the reward is an authentic taste of Filipino hospitality and tradition.


What is the difference between bulalo and nilaga? Bulalo and nilaga are both Filipino beef soups, but the key difference lies in their ingredients. Bulalo is characterized by the use of beef shank and bone marrow, giving it a richer flavor and texture, while Malaga can be made with various cuts of beef and is typically lighter, with a clear broth and a variety of vegetables.
What is bulalo in Filipino culture? In Filipino culture, bulalo is more than just a dish; it’s a symbol of comfort, celebration, and communal dining. It’s often served during special occasions and is a favorite for family gatherings, reflecting the warmth and generosity of Filipino hospitality.
What is the English name for bulalo? Bulalo is commonly referred to in English as “Filipino beef marrow stew.” The name directly points to its main ingredients and the method of preparation, which involves slow-cooking beef shank and marrow bones to create a hearty stew.
Why do people love to eat bulalo? People love to eat bulalo for its rich and savory broth, tender meat, and the cultural dining experience it offers. The dish is comforting, filling, and associated with good times and happy memories, making it a beloved choice for many.


In conclusion, bulalo stands as a culinary emblem of the Philippines, a dish that warms the heart and nourishes the soul. It’s a testament to the country’s rich culture, showcasing the art of turning simple ingredients into a feast. Whether you’re enjoying it amidst the bustling streets of Manila or in the quiet comfort of your home, bulalo is a dish that brings people together, offering a taste of Filipino heritage in every spoonful. For more information on this delectable stew, visit Wikipedia’s page on Philippine cuisine.

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