Filipino Bulalo

I often wish that there would always be a pot of soup of the stove. Warm and ready to go any time of the day, all day, and every day. How cool would that be, especially if you had a wood burner or something and it was your task to keep that warm pot of goodness warm all day long. I know I would be into something like that! I don’t want to be premature but I think fall sprung in Wisconsin. What does that mean? Well, what it means every fall Sunday at the Phillips house; comfort food season.

This weekend was no exception. The chicken pot pie came rolling out as did pumpkin spiced ‘you name it desserts’, as well as soup. The thought of soup seemed like a warm blanket on a cold afternoon. Granted chicken pot pie is that thickening agent that just coats your stomach lining, and almost putting you instantly to sleep, but that soup on the otherhand, well that got me thinking. Thinking not only about how delicious each bite would be, but thoughts of making a rustic bread,, and leaving that soup of the stove all darn day only to be had more of later. That’s when I thought of the communal Filipino soup known as Bulalo.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

The thing about bulalo is that it might be intimidating if it is served in front of you without ever have tried it. It’s almost like a Mexican caldo de res where you get large chunks of meat and vegetables. It’s definitely a spoon, fork, knife, and hand meal so probably best to eat around close friends and family in case you get down and dirty and want to roll up your sleeves, not have a care in the world and just get to town on some bone marrow!

Yes, the bone marrow. It’s the luxurious part of this soup and part of the beauty. Beef bones with marrow, cooked really low and slow until pot roast tender. That’s this soup. Simple, delicious, and slurpable.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs of beef shanks
  • water
  • 2 bundles of bok choy, quartered whole
  • 3 ears of corn, cut into half, or quarters
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 head garlic, top cut off (exposing cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, more to your liking
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • limes, optional
  • cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • fried shallots, optional
  • fried garlic, optional

Start by adding cold water to a stock pot. Add the beef shanks (find these on the cheap at local Mexican grocery stores), and turn on the heat to a medium high heat.

Cook the shanks for about 15 minutes or until they come to a boil for about 5 minutes. During the boil, get a large spoon out and skim the top surface of all of the bone scum. Discard the scum. We are going to discard the water and scum anyway but it’s always nice to get rid of the majority ahead of time.

Put a strainer in your sink and pour the beef and water into the strainer. Rinse the beef well.

Rinse out the stock pot. Place the bones back in the pot along with the onion, garlic, and peppercorns. Fill to cover with water, and return to a boil.

Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe
Filipino Bulalo Soup Recipe

While the beef is boiling, continue to skim off any scum that comes to the surface and discard. After about 4 hours, remove the garlic, onion, and any peppercorns.

Season the stock with fish sauce and some salt. Stir and taste. If the stock is getting a bit low, add a bit more water to your liking, just keep the beef stock flavored as you add more water.

Add in the corn and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or so. Once the beef is ultra tender, add in the bok choy and cabbage. I tossed in a small amount of fresh green beans from our garden as well (not necessary), and give that a good stir. Good for another 10 minutes or so, give a taste and adjust salt if necessary.

When you are ready to serve, transfer some of the soup mixture into a soup serving bowl, ensuring some beef bone, corn, and cabbage, then give a good squeeze of lime. Serve alongside a big bowl of cooked jasmine rice, and dig in! I like to top mine with fried garlic chips and shallots, and some fresh chili, but that’s just me.

Not only is this a great communal dish, but it is one that is perfect for long, cold days and evenings, and one that is sure to please a crowd.

Get a plate. Take some rice onto the plate. Slurp some broth. Spoon out some chunks of cabbage or beef onto the rice. Get into it. Repeat.

Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Fried Bangus Breakfast (Daing na Bangus)

I have always been curious when my Filipino relatives discuss food, whether things they are making at home, or things to try when travelling to the Philippines. It seems like I have only skimmed the top when it comes to making Filipino food. The common ones are lechon kawali, bicol express, kare kare, arroz caldo, lechon manok, paksiw lechon, lumpia shanghai, and their famous adobo.

The reality is that there is so much more, especially with their desserts which I have really yet to try. There have been several occasions when I have heard of a great breakfast, beyond a plate of garlic fried rice and tocino, and it inspired me because it is something similar to what I grew up eating when visiting my grandparents lake house, and that was fried fish with eggs. It was one of my favorites, and this one tops the list as well. A Filipino fried bangus breakfast.

Filipino Fried Bangus Recipe
Filipino Fried Bangus Recipe

The fish takes a bit of preparation but nothing out of the ordinary. A simple marinade, preferably overnight, along with the removal of any bones (you can do this beforehand, or cautiously pick them out as you dig at it after cooking).  The small amount of time pays off.  If you have never heard of bangus, don’t worry. The common name for it is Milkfish.  What is great about this is that it holds the flavor of the marinade, does not take very long to pan fry, and it is a great, white and firm meat. You can find bangus, most likely, in your local Asian market, and typically frozen.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 filets of bangus, bones removed are optional
  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lightly crushed whole black peppercorns
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup of cooked jasmine rice, optional, per serving
  • 2 eggs, cooked to your liking, per serving
  • Thai bird chilies, optional

Start by marinating your fish. To a sealable plastic bag, or medium sized bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and salt and mix to combine.  Add the bangus (in my case they came portioned, most likely quartered). Give a good mix, seal or cover, and let everything marry overnight.

The following morning, remove the bangus, and place onto a plate. Pat both sides with paper towel and remove any peppercorns or garlic from the fish. Don’t worry if some stick on the fish. That’s extra flavor in my opinion!

Ingredients for making Filipino Bangus
Ingredients for making Filipino Bangus

Get a large skillet ready, and add in your oil. Bring this to a medium-high heat. After a few minutes of warming the oil, lay in the filets, skin side down, and cook for about 4 minutes or until the skin is nice and crispy. Once the skin is crispy, gently flip it over and cook an additional 4 minutes.

During this time, feel free to plate your cooked jasmine rice, cook your eggs, and plate that, and get ready to feast.

Once the fish is cooked, remove with a slotted spatula, preferably a fish spatula, and place on a paper towel lined plate to remove any excess oil. Remove the filets from the plate and onto your plate along with the rice and eggs, and dig in.

I loved this dish. Not only the flavor of the vinegar, garlic, and peppercorns but when that fish is mixed with the rice and eggs, well you have one heck of a breakfast! If you cannot find the bangus, feel free to try the marinade on another firm whitefish. Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Fried Bangus Breakfast (Daing na Bangus)
Author: 
Recipe type: Filipino
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 4 filets of bangus, bones removed are optional
  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lightly crushed whole black peppercorns
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup of cooked jasmine rice, optional, per serving
  • 2 eggs, cooked to your liking, per serving
  • Thai bird chilies, optional
Instructions
  1. The fish takes a bit of preparation but nothing out of the ordinary. A simple marinade, preferably overnight, along with the removal of any bones (you can do this beforehand, or cautiously pick them out as you dig at it after cooking).  The small amount of time pays off.  If you have never heard of bangus, don't worry. The common name for it is Milkfish.  What is great about this is that it holds the flavor of the marinade, does not take very long to pan fry, and it is a great, white and firm meat. You can find bangus, most likely, in your local Asian market, and typically frozen.
  2. Start by marinating your fish. To a sealable plastic bag, or medium sized bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and salt and mix to combine.  Add the bangus (in my case they came portioned, most likely quartered). Give a good mix, seal or cover, and let everything marry overnight.
  3. The following morning, remove the bangus, and place onto a plate. Pat both sides with paper towel and remove any peppercorns or garlic from the fish. Don't worry if some stick on the fish. That's extra flavor in my opinion!
  4. Get a large skillet ready, and add in your oil. Bring this to a medium-high heat. After a few minutes of warming the oil, lay in the filets, skin side down, and cook for about 4 minutes or until the skin is nice and crispy. Once the skin is crispy, gently flip it over and cook an additional 4 minutes.
  5. During this time, feel free to plate your cooked jasmine rice, cook your eggs, and plate that, and get ready to feast.
  6. Once the fish is cooked, remove with a slotted spatula, preferably a fish spatula, and place on a paper towel lined plate to remove any excess oil. Remove the filets from the plate and onto your plate along with the rice and eggs, and dig in.

 

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Soup season is here. I love it. I might talk about soup two times a week, throwing out ideas, in hopes of making more soup. There is something about it. A bowl of pretty much the basic stuff, but there are always extras laying around to throw into the pot. Me? I’m hot sauce, herbs, chilies, fried garlic or shallots. Heck, sometimes an egg, a little more something, something. Who knows? That’s the great question about soup, and something that I always love.

I mentioned in the past about how much I love Filipino chicken tinola. It is a Pinoy recipe from what I know from my father-in-law, and one of pure comfort. The soup is a take on classic chicken soup in its basic form, but jazzed up a bit. This type of soup is what makes us happy and warms our body.  Coconut milk, Thai chilies, chicken? Ready?

This is (my take) Filipino Tinola Halang Halang.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ginger, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, cleaned and cut into bite sized cubes (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken, breasts, legs, wings, and thighs, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 8 Thai chilies (preference 2 per bowl)
  • 1 whole lemongrass stalk, top part removed, trim tender bottom part
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • jasmine rice, cooked

Start by heating the oil in your large dutch oven, or medium sized soup pot, on medium heat.

Next, add in your onion and ginger and give that a stir, cooking until it slightly begins to softens, about 4 minutes. Next toss in the garlic, and give that a good stir, cooking for about a minute.

Now add in your chicken pieces, moving the onion mixture around so that you are able to brown up some of the chicken skin. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. After 20 minutes, add in the lemongrass, chicken stock, water, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. Add in the potatoes if you will be using them. Give this a good stir.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients

Cover, and cook this mixture on medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Lastly add in the bunch of spinach, and Thai chilies, and give another stir. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until the spinach is wilted and cooked through.

Now it is time to serve. Ladle in the soup into your bowl, making sure you get pieces of chicken, potatoes, onion, etc. Garnish with more chilies should you desire or some fried shallots and get ready to dig in.

I like to serve mine with a side bowl of rice. This allows me to spoon some of that wonderful coconut broth and then chase it with some rice. This is everything you will love about Filipino tinola, but one with a twist. I mean you can’t go wrong with coconut milk, chilies, and chicken soup on a cool, Fall day. Hope you enjoy!

Lechon Kawali

Snack, Crackle, Pop. Repeat. I’ve said this before but Filipino food is on the rise, and much like many top chefs have predicted, Filipino food will begin to surprise you. If you have never had Filipino food, just give it a try. Granted, I have yet to find a sweet Filipino dessert that I like (but then again I do not like many desserts as I am not a sweet tooth), but the savory dishes are to die for. This one might be the one to top it off. There are many common, top, Filipino dishes that you might already be aware of such as Pancit, lumpia, or even Kare Kare, but there is one that is top notch, and that is lechon kawali.

Your cardiologist may not like you after this, nor probably your primary physician, but in moderation, this Filipino crispy pork is so simple to make, and makes a perfect party food. Traditionally made with pork belly, you can also try it with pork ribs just make sure you have plenty of fat to render on the second cooking cycle. Yep, there are two cooking steps going on here.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork belly, cut into 2 inch long strips
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, bulbs smashed
  • 4 whole bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • water
  • salt
  • canola oil
  • dipping sauce
    • White Vinegar, to your liking
    • Soy sauce, to your liking
    • Chopped garlic, to your liking
    • cracked black pepper, to your liking
    • 1 Thai birds eye chili, smashed, optional or Thai chili flakes

I recently made this for my son’s birthday party, as well as another Filipino gathering and both times they rocked the socks off of the party guests. You know you’ve done right when the Filipinos are giving you a thumbs up, a hug, or a high five after eating your food. This is a winner.

Start by adding the pork belly, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce, and enough water to cover the pork belly into a large pot or dutch oven. Cover, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 1 hour. This is to tenderize the pork, and infuse all of the great flavor from those aromatics.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients

After 1 hour or so, get a baking sheet out and line it with a wire rack.

Take the strips of pork belly and lay them on the rack, making sure any of the excess liquid goes back into the pot. Once the strips are laid out, lightly salt them with kosher salt. This will assist with the dehydration process and get them ready for the next step the following day, if not hours later in the day.

Place the baking sheet, uncovered in the refrigerator. I do this over night.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

When you are ready to go with the next step, take the pork out of the refrigerator and cut them into bite sized cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Go larger if you prefer.

Heat a pot of oil, about 2-3 cups of canola oil, in a medium sized pot, and bring this to about 350-375 degrees.

In batches, fry the pork. This should take about 5-7 minutes per batch. Once golden and the fat is rendered and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spyder and place onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Let the oil in the pot come back to temp, then repeat until the lechon kawali is cooked.

NOTE: If you are frying these bad boys, make sure you reserve some for yourself because if you turn your back, trust me, these babies will be gone. This happened to me when I brought them to a party for our friend Miguel to chop up and fry. I didn’t even get a single piece! No worries on that part however, as I know that when I am snacking with the family, that I am sure to get a few pieces.

And that dipping sauce? Go for it. The combination of garlic, vinegar, soy, and chili. That’s a whole other level when it comes to dipping sauce.

If you are looking for a great party appetizer, and don’t mind frying with a bit of oil, this one is sure to please and is a real crowd pleaser not only for those wanting to try some Filipino flavors, but for those who love great, easy food. Hope you enjoy!