Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nilagang Baka (Beef Brisket Soup with Vegetables)

With the onset of the rainy season that brings in colder days and nights, this Filipino dish is so good and the favorite comfort food on a cold weather. My secret for having a clear and tasty broth is
using beef brisket and beef ribs part and diligently taking out the scum portion while it boils. The bone part makes the broth tastier aside from the meaty part of the beef that gives additional flavor. I seldom use beef cubes and lean more on using fish sauce to balance the taste and to have a flavorful rich broth. Nilagang Baka or Boiled Beef with Vegetables is very easy to make. Simmering the beef brisket and ribs is the only time consuming part in creating this hearty dish. I set an hour in a half of boiling to make the beef tenderer and juicier. My simple rule is allot an hour of boiling and tenderizing for every one kilo of beef. Traditional cooking requires putting a stainless spoon or fork while the beef is getting boiled, I still do that. I also shared tips to lessen the fat content and how to come up with a clear and tasty broth.

 For me, what defines a good Beef Broth Soup with Vegetables or Nilagang Baka is its rich and flavorful clear broth, tender beef pieces with a bit of fat and evenly cooked vegetables. I am not a big fan of overcooked vegetables so I always add it at the very last part of my cooking. I usually pair this beef soup with a spicy dipping sauce made up of freshly squeezed calamansi, fish sauce, and cut chili pieces. Totally sinful but very indulging, a little bit of bad may be good but not everyday for me.It is a simple dish but really filling. Since I don’t really cook beef that much, I needed to take pictures and blog about my bowl of comfort on that one perfect Sunday brunch with my family. :)


1 kilo beef brisket, chopped into chunky cubes

¼ kilo beef ribs part, chopped

1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

1 tsp. iodized salt

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 liters of water for the soup base and boiling process

I whole head of cabbage, trimmed, quartered and halved. Make it in big pieces.

4 bundles of pechay, ends trimmed and rinsed well

4 medium size potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 big red onion

1 head garlic

Dipping Sauce:

Squeezed calamansi juice

Freshly cut red chilies

Fish sauce (Patis)


Thoroughly wash (3 times) all beef parts and cut into two inch diameter thickness. Wash the bones and boil on a big pot along with the cut beef briskets. Bring to a rolling boil, cover the pot and continue simmering and tenderizing under low heat for an hour and a half. From time to time check the top portion and skim off the scum and dispose it. Keep it covered and occasionally check for scum that form on the side of the pot and continuously discard it until the broth turns clear. Be diligent in removing it to achieve a clear beef broth soup. Do not add salt or anything yet, as adding salt will make the tenderizing part much longer. Just keep boiling the beef in plain water until tender. If you want to lessen the fat content of the soup you can boil the beef pieces a day before and refrigerate the cooked meat, when the fat or oily part freezes scoop it out with a strainer to lessen the oil content of the dish.

When liquid reduces to half due to the tenderizing part and the broth is clear and free from scum, add another liter of water and start seasoning the broth. Add salt, peppercorns, onions, garlic, and bring to a boil or the beef to fully absorb the added seasoning ingredients. After about fifteen minutes of boiling, add in the potatoes, cover the pot and simmer for a good five minutes or so. 

Season the broth with fish sauce then add the remaining vegetables like, cabbage and pechay and turn off the stove. Leave it covered on top of the stove so the vegetables will be cooked just right. Once it is ready to serve arrange the vegetables, beef brisket and soup on a large bowl. It is great with fish sauce, calamansi and chilies for dipping sauce on top of freshly cooked rice. Do not over season the dish as you have a choice of adding a dipping sauce of soy sauce, fish sauce, or salt when the dish is finally served.

A happy Sunday one pot meal and a hearty dish as well.

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