DUBAI: Bulalo, best served piping hot to awaken the senses, and with bird’s eye chili and fish sauce to bring the phrase “sweating it out” to a whole new level, is a delicacy most Filipinos grew up with.
As Flavors on the Road, which describes itself as a “foodventurer’s site,” puts it, bulalo, is a stew made by boiling beef shanks and marrow bones for hours until the fat melts into the clear broth and produces a light colored soup that made more flavorful by various seasonings.
This is where the variations come into play, with some preferring to give it a dash of lemon so that saltiness and sourness blend harmoniously with the shank’s natural flavor.
Chinese cabbage, string beans, corn cobs with lots of onions and ginger usually leave gourmands speechless as this delicacy is served in a bowl paired with steamed rice.
Indeed, this gastronomic feast has become such a sensation among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) anywhere around the world so much so that restaurants claiming to serve authentic Pinoy dishes would have this on their menu to attract attention.
But where did this dish come from? Other countries have similar variations with different names – pot-au-feu in France where it is regarded as the most celebrated dish back there; the old-fashioned English boiled beef and carrots; and the Irish-American boiled corned beef brisket, which has carrots and potatoes as well.
In the Philippines, it is thought that the mystifying bulalo was born in cattle-raising Batangas, south of Manila where, Flavors on the Road said it is “extremely popular.”
Others say Tagaytay where it is served at restaurants 24-7. Whatever the case may be, bulalo has invaded Manila and has travelled as far south as Davao where, of course it is prepared with slight variations.