Sunday, September 1, 2013

Recipe: Filipino Nilaga and Sinagang Boiled Meat Soups

It there's any dish that screams "home", it's Nilaga ... many times our family sat down to feast on a pot of Nilaga because it's such good no-nonsense food. Nilaga and Adobo kept me sane during my early years away from home while attending UC Berkeley.

You can make authentic Nilaga Tagalog-style (like Mom) using beef shanks (with the marrow!). The meat and bones make up a very rich and tasty soup.

(You can also use pork country-style ribs, chicken or fish. However, culturally, these recipes fall under the name "Sinigang" because they use different veggies, lemon or tamarind, to adjust the taste for the difference in meat.)


Boil 3/4 kg of beef shanks in water with 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns and 1 med sized onion (quartered). Allow to boil in medium heat and cook until meat becomes tender (1 - 1 1/2 hrs). Season with garlic salt and 2-3 tbsp Patis (fish sauce). Add in potatoes (quartered) and cook until tender. Add in vegetables (round cabbage, or Bok Choy, and sometimes yard-long green beans in season) and adjust water and salt level when necessary before serving.

If you choose to make Sinigang, you might have to watch for "foam" that might boil up from the meat (particularly when using chicken); skim that off and discard. The veggies to add are Bok Choy, yard-long beans, sliced tomato (peel the skin off, saute' it in with the onion, then add water to boil the meat) and daikon radish (instead of potato) or peeled taro. Favored fish to use would be Bangus (milkfish, which is traditional because it's a Philippine staple), Tilapia (another staple) or Catfish. Favored cut of pork would be country-style ribs, which produces a more flavorful soup than cutting up a leaner pork shoulder.

Enjoy some of my fondest memories of Home ... from our kitchen to yours. MABUHAY! 

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