Origin, Flavor, and Recipe

In the world of comfort food, few dishes can rival the heartwarming and satisfying flavor of bulalo. This Filipino beef soup is not only beloved for its rich taste but also for its cultural significance and popularity. In this blog post, we will dive deep into the world of bulalo, exploring its origins, savoring its unique flavor, and providing you with a step-by-step recipe to recreate this delectable dish at home.

Origin of Bulalo

Bulalo has its roots firmly planted in the Philippines, where it has become a beloved national dish. The name “bulalo” is derived from the Tagalog word “bula,” which means “marrow.” The dish is aptly named because it features beef shanks and bone marrow as its primary ingredients.

The exact origin of bulalo is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed to have originated in the Southern Luzon region of the Philippines, particularly in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. These regions are known for their cattle farming, making bulalo a natural and delicious consequence of their agricultural traditions.

Flavor Profile of Bulalo

One of the key attractions of bulalo is its deeply satisfying and umami-rich flavor. The broth, which forms the foundation of the dish, is simmered for hours, allowing the beef shanks and bone marrow to release their flavors and nutrients into the liquid. The result is a hearty, savory, and slightly fatty broth that is both nourishing and incredibly flavorful.

Here are some of the elements that contribute to bulalo’s distinctive flavor profile:

  1. Beef Shanks: The beef shanks used in bulalo are marbled with fat and connective tissue. As they simmer in the broth, these components melt and infuse the soup with a rich, meaty taste.
  2. Bone Marrow: The marrow inside the bones adds a luxurious, buttery quality to the broth, creating a velvety texture and an extra layer of flavor.
  3. Vegetables: Bulalo typically includes corn on the cob, cabbage, and sometimes potatoes or plantains. These vegetables absorb the flavors of the broth and contribute their own sweetness and earthiness to the dish.
  4. Seasonings: Bulalo is seasoned with fish sauce, salt, and pepper, which enhance the overall flavor and balance the richness of the broth.

Popularity of Bulalo

Bulalo’s popularity extends far beyond the borders of the Philippines. It has gained a dedicated following among food enthusiasts around the world. The hearty and soul-soothing qualities of bulalo make it a favorite choice for family gatherings, celebrations, and even as a comforting meal during cold weather.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying bulalo, its reputation as a must-try Filipino dish often precedes it. The combination of tender beef, melt-in-your-mouth bone marrow, and a savory broth is simply irresistible.

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Bulalo Filipino comfort dish

Recipe and Instructions to Make Bulalo

Now, let’s explore how you can prepare this delightful dish in the comfort of your own kitchen. Here’s a step-by-step recipe for homemade bulalo:


  • 2 pounds of beef shanks
  • 2-3 beef marrow bones
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 liters of water
  • 2 ears of corn, each cut into 3-4 pieces
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 pieces of saba bananas or plantains (optional)
  • Fish sauce, salt, and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, add the beef shanks, beef marrow bones, onion, and garlic. Pour in the water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer the broth for at least 2-3 hours. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.
  3. After simmering, add the corn and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the corn is tender.
  4. Season the broth with fish sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
  5. Finally, add the cabbage and saba bananas (if using) to the pot. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
  6. Serve the bulalo hot in bowls, making sure to include beef shanks, bone marrow, vegetables, and plenty of the flavorful broth.
  7. Enjoy your homemade bulalo with steamed rice and fish sauce on the side for dipping!


Bulalo is a culinary masterpiece that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. Its rich flavor, cultural significance, and comforting qualities make it a cherished dish in Filipino cuisine. Whether you’re experiencing it for the first time or preparing it in your own kitchen, bulalo is sure to leave a lasting impression with its delicious and soul-satisfying taste. So, gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and savor the warm embrace of this Filipino classic.

Shelu Abapo

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