LP12 – Starry Nilagang Baka

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Ex-colleague CesLP theme is truly interesting especially for us who live abroad. For more than a decade, my eating habits include appreciating foreign cuisine through dining out on a regular basis and Pinoy cooking at home as the craving for lasang Pinoy will never go away. I blogged about quite a few fusion recipes before and since I am here in Beijing I had the urge to share one with Northern Chinese influence for LP12. I could easily whip up a quick Chinese-looking stir-fry dish that would still taste distinctly Pinoy.

Since one won’t find a Filipino store around here, substituting an ingredient is not new to me. I use lemon instead of kalamansi as souring agent to sinigang, sinaing, Pinoy beef steak and liver steak, and Kapampangan’s quilo. I use potatoes instead of unripe papaya for my tinolang manok. Experimenting is also a habit. I add Italian herbs to sitsaro guisado, and raisins or apples instead of the most common pineapple or just plain sugar to hamonado recipes. For years I use dried lily blossoms for paksiw na pata thinking those we buy in packets with tags written in Chinese characters are actually banana blossoms! Also, two of my other LP entries definitely fall under the same category – I marbleized the humble street food nilagang itlog ng pugo and my soul food sinaing na tulingan becomes pasta tuna.

How do all of these become fusion cooking? The constant craving for pagkaing Pilipino, the acquired taste for some foreign dishes most especially Asian food and with the limited time I have (and sometimes budget constraints), I strive to make each meal the best I can, to be a feast that excites and satisfies the senses.

We spent years around Southeast Asia that we can not live without visiting restos here that would take us back to those times when we enjoy Malay, Peranakan and Thai food. So for LP12, I want to share nilagang baka mala-sup tulang. Sup tulang, which literally translates to bone soup (said to be an Indian-Muslim beef broth explosive of spices and chili created sometime between late 1940s and early 1950s), is a popular Malay food which derives its richness from long-simmered beef bones. The first time I had it, I was reminded right away of our very own bulalo, a flavorful soup best served hot. The difference is that this Malay soup has strong spices uncommon in most of our native dishes.

I don’t exactly know what’s inside that small sup tulang packet we used to buy then. Definitely, with star anise cardamoms and cinnamon sticks but this time I didn’t substitute any ingredient for nilaga. Yet I don’t intend to corrupt my taste buds with too much spice that would keep me from appreciating the natural beef flavor so I limit myself to adding the following – a couple of star anise when simmering and the serving mixed with chopped leaks and toasted garlic and shallots. It’s basically the same Pinoy oxtail soup but with a subtle difference, the flavor of the beef broth further enhanced by the extra spices.

a kilo of oxtail (or use bulalo instead)
1 large shallot, cut into quarters
2 medium potatoes, quartered
1 small cabbage, quartered
a handful of whole baguio beans, trimmed
2 pcs of atar anise
patis (fish sauce)
1/2 cup of julliened leeks

For added flavor and garnishing:
1 medium shallot, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of chopped leeks

In a frying pan, saute the garlic until golden brown. Drain and set aside. Fry the chopped shallots until crisp and reserve together with the fried garlic and chopped leaks.

Place the oxtail in a pot of boiling water and bring to boil. Scoop out the scum when it floats. Simmer for about 30 minutes then add the shallots, star anise and peppercorns. Continue simmering for another hour adding more water when necessary. Add patis and simmer until the beef is almost tender. You may continue cooking, in my case I left it overnight inside the ref. The next day, I took off the fat and simmer again until the beef is tender.

Add the potatoes and simmer until cooked. Add in the cabbage, beans and leeks, and cover the pot. Bring to boil. Turn off the heat, throw in half of the toasted garlic and shallots, mix thoroughly and let stand for a couple of minutes. Serve hot with garnishing.

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

19 thoughts on “LP12 – Starry Nilagang Baka

  1. This is a great flavour alternative to a nilagang baka. Sounds delicious. I also like the addition of fried garlic, shallots and leeks! Beautiful photo! And a great entry for Lasang Pinoy thanks for the recipe Iska :-)

  2. Iska, interesting nilaga and quite similar to the Indonesian Sop Buntut, a favorite Indonesian dish of mine. Your posts always leave me wanting to have dinner at your place… if only I lived in China!

  3. hi mae! all i can say is that your food photos are a LOT greater than mine :mrgreen: yeah you should try nilaga this way sometimes. you may also add chili

    hi mita! yes it is actually sup buntut in malay, meaning oxtail soup. they hav sup ayam (chicken), sup kambing (goat), sup torpedo (i think this is similar to sup no.5 :) na-try ko pa lng buto-buto at oxtail but taste the same :) if u wish to visit beijing EB tayo!

  4. I’m sure that’s so delicious, I will try adding spices/herbs to my nilaga/bulalo next time. Thanks for sharing.


  5. What a great, informativ and well documented post. My mouth was watering while reading and looking at the pics. Only from looking, your really excites and satisfies my senses :razz:

  6. Sounds good to me… I think the star anise must give it that extra flavoring oomph! Sometimes Nilagang Baka is too bland but adding the spice ensures a flavorful broth… what a great LP entry!

  7. brings me back to our days-gone-by in Brunei tita kais! incidentally, ems sent me the complete ingredients for sup tulang last time i went back home! haven’t done it yet… i will soon!
    thanks for the entry!

  8. What an interesting entry. And you know what, I also use that dried lily blossoms for my paksiw na pata. And next time, I’ll try using potatoes for tinola. surely, masarap din sya.
    Have a nice day !!!!

  9. I did the same thing, with the lily blossoms; I thought they were banana blossoms because I couldn’t understand the writing on the package, and they look similar :lol:

    You made me want some bulalo now :) I like the addition of the spices.

  10. gosh that bulalo recipe is to die for! I haven’t had bulalo in over a year! ahh! I seriously have to make it myself! :D

    ox tail is a good idea!

  11. maraming salamat sa website na ito!single mom, cancer survivor,taking care of home and kids meals solo. this site helps a lot to plan our daily fares. SALAMAT TALAGA!

  12. Sorry for not replying right away to all your comments but it’s really great to read ‘em. Hope one day you could tell me you’ve tried it and like it as well. Hi Susan! Nice to see you again here :-)

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