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Bulalo (Beef Shanks with Bone Marrow Soup)

The province of Batangas where my dad came from is known not only for the  famous Kapeng Barako (Batangas coffee) and its beautiful beaches, but also for this comforting beef dish called Bulalo. For many, Batangas is a favorite spot for swimming or scuba diving, and on the way to their destination, it’s always a must to stop at one of the many bulalo restaurants along the way. 

So what is Bulalo? Well, bulalo is actually the Filipino word for kneecap. It is use to refer to this very tasty soup which was originally made from beef shanks cut with the kneecap included and the bone marrow still intact (though nowadays, most bulalo are cooked without the kneecap). This dish is said to have originated in Batangas where the best grown cattle in the region can be found. Traditional Batangas bulalo is cooked with onions, garlic, corn cobs, cabbage and pechay and is usually served with fish sauce, calamansi (Filipino lime), and a kind of chili called siling labuyo. This dish is very similar to Beef Nilaga and the only difference lies in the use of beef shanks with bone marrow for the bulalo.
Bulalo has been a favorite soup of mine since I was a little girl...and when the cooler temperature comes or whenever any of my family member feels under the weather, this is my go-to dish. It has a very rich taste and satisfying broth that makes it very comforting! It takes time to cook, but I tell you, it's worth the wait!

  • 6 pcs. bone-in beef shanks (about 2 lbs.), washed and drained
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 pc. Knorr beef cube, optional
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 4 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 pcs. corn on the cob, each cut into 3-4 pcs.
  • 1 bundle pechay, washed and trimmed
  • 8 pcs. napa cabbage leaves, washed and trimmed
  • 4 stalks green onions, cut into 2 inch pcs.
  • salt and pepper
1. Place beef in a big pot. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a boil over medium heat until scum appears on the surface. Remove all the scum or brown bubbles that will form on top of the soup. 
2. Replace water and bring to a boil again. Add garlic, onion, peppercorns & beef cube and fish sauce. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, approximately 1½ - 2  hours. Test for tenderness. Add more water if necessary, i.e., if it has to be cooked longer. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Add corn cobs. When almost done (approx. 10 minutes), add pechay and napa cabbage. Simmer for 3 more minutes. Add green onions. Simmer for another minute.
3. Remove from heat. Serve hot with rice!


  1. Hi Tina, your comfort soup sure look delicious. I like the vege combination, look good.

    Have a wonderful week ahead.

  2. Shanks are the best part of beef (that's what I believe). I love beef shanks and having them in a soup made the dish not only comforting but also filling.

  3. Tina , that bulalo soup looks absolutely scrumptious ! I miss that dish :D Love the added veggies .....

  4. this looks delicious and so rich and flavorful with the broth!