23 Jun2013


I don’t think I have had more than a couple of beef adobos in my lifetime… And I don’t think my parents ever had a version of this in their household either. But the idea of a slow cooked beef shank (osso buco) with soy, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves just sounded so good, so I figured it was worth a try…


Roughly two kilos of grass-fed Australian beef shanks were rinsed and tied with kitchen twine so they didn’t fall apart. Then placed in a pressure cooker for roughly 30-40 minutes with some peppercorns, bay leaves, water and garlic cloves. When we took them out of the pressure cooker they were still hard as leather, but we decided to continue slow braising them in a heavy enameled pot instead. Remove the twine and place in a Le Creuset, Staub or similar pot. To the beef, I added half of the cooking stock which we reduced to concentrate the flavors, a beef bouillon cube (yes, gasp, I do occasionally use them), three whole heads of garlic, tops sliced off, some kikkoman soy sauce, some apple vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, and a tablespoon of dark brown muscovado sugar. I threw in a single star anise and let this braise over low heat for say two more hours. There was a part of me that expected this to be reminiscent of a Korean beef stew of sorts, but we just had to wait and see.


It smelled heavenly, looked terrific and just seemed well on its way to becoming a delicious dish. The marrow started to disintegrate from the long cooking and the fat melted into the sauce, ading a layer of richness. But the sauce was a bit thin, lacking the sticky richness of a dish made with pork that possessed unctuous amounts of fat. Come to think of it, the archeplago was probably teeming with wild boar and eventually domesticated pigs, but much less so with cattle or carabaos, so perhaps that’s why a beef adobo seems so alien to the local menu…


The beef shank adobo never quite softened to the point that you would like a well-made braised osso buco to end up. It was a bit tougher than I would have hoped for. But the flavor was pretty good, certainly quite edible with copious amounts of rice. The bulalo spread on some of the meat and a clove of softened garlic added on made for a mouthful of flavor and texture. I don’t think we will be making this again, it was just far less appealing than a pork adobo (or snipes, chicken, gabi roots, duck, quail, etc.) if anything, trying another beef version might best be done with some brisket that also tends to soften after many hours of slow cooking… At any rate, at least I saved you all from a slightly disappointing adobo experiment… :)



  1. Joseph says:

    Thanks for this recipe, Mr. MM. I have been looking for another way to cook ox tail other than in a kare-kare or tomato based stew. I think this one will work very well. I never thought of cooking beef in adobo.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 5:57 pm


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  3. Rochelle says:

    *drool* sarap MM! :) will try to cook this next Sunday!

    Jun 23, 2013 | 7:43 pm

  4. Josephine says:

    I think the initial pressure cooking was perhaps a mistake MM. That would have ‘shocked’ the meat, whereas these tough cuts need to release their collagen very slowly, which also makes the sauce more unctuous when you don’t have the fat of pork. Also, to paraphrase Elizabeth David, pressure cooked stocks and stews taste of bone. You said you won’t do this again, but if you do, just do it in your cast iron pot over a low flame, or in a very low oven.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 8:50 pm

  5. William says:

    try beef short ribs, works for me

    Jun 23, 2013 | 8:52 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Josephine, you are probably right. I don’t know why I thought to use the pressure cooker, I rarely, if ever use it on meat. And they did come out tight as a pulled muscle… So yes, the meat would probably turn out softer and more relaxed in a dutch oven alone. And ideally in an oven, not stovetop so the heat was from all around… william, yes, short ribs might work better. They are the cut used in Romy Dorotan’s recipe for adobo in his and Amy Besa’s book, “Memories of Philippine Kitchens”…

    Jun 23, 2013 | 9:37 pm

  7. Connie C says:

    By chance picked the Chinese menu at a restaurant where after pointing at numbers on the menu we got one of the orders (along with half a dozen versions of fried rice!:) this melt in your mouth beef and tendon in soy sauce and star anise dish. The beef was really tender but kept its shape and volume and did not fall apart. It must have slowly braised in the pot for hours on end.

    If one is willing to wait and be patient, MM’s beef shank adobo can slowly braise in a cast iron enamel pot, stove top or in the oven and turn out fine as Josephine suggested. I do this all the time for beef mechado or for tougher cuts of beef.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 10:16 pm

  8. MlleD says:

    I have tried making my own “version” of this as an afterthought in a ceramic slow-cooker. I forgot to cook the shanks and left them in the fridge the entire night so when I saw them the following morning I decided to throw them together in the slow-cooker, turned it on low for 12 hours (just because, that was my shift for the day) and came home to a
    nice tender beef shank adobo.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:22 pm

  9. gezel says:

    Can beef shanks be exchange for lamb shanks, i love your lamb shanks recipe and do it all the time just looking for a new way to cook lamb shanks. Thanks

    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:26 pm

  10. Natie says:


    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:40 pm

  11. Nina says:

    Connie C., that must be the braised beef brisket with tendon and daikon, right? Delish!

    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:55 pm

  12. bijin says:

    A few weeks ago after reading the Adobo Roadside cookbook reviews online, I tried one recommendation by a blogger…the beef short ribs adobo. I’ve never had or prepared adobo using beef. It called for red wine and red wine vinegar and the usual ingredients. I didn’t have the wine so just cooked the ribs in the vinegar. The red wine vinegar was not acidic enough so I added apple cider vinegar; simmered for about 3 hours. The meat was falling of the bones and it was just scrumptious!

    Jun 24, 2013 | 12:13 am

  13. EJ says:

    Connie C., is that restaurant in the Manila area? Name, please. Thanks!

    Jun 24, 2013 | 7:02 am

  14. aleeh co says:

    Did a beef shank experiment about 2 weeks ago. Instead of the usual tender cuts of beef, we used shanks for beef with broccoli and beef nilaga. Slow cooking is the key. After boiling the shanks in water, without salt and/or spices, for about 3 minutes drain and rinse off any scum from the meat. Then cover again with water, now with the spices and slow cook over a very low fire for 3-4 hours. After which, the sauce becomes really gelatinous. We let it cool down, put inside the fridge and take off the fat from the surface. Then we sauted and add broccoli to half of the batch and then the other half was further cooked into a nilaga. Thought it was a successful experiment… and worth sharing.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 8:24 am

  15. mayk says:

    maybe vinegar and beef doesn’t really goes along well…

    Jun 24, 2013 | 8:51 am

  16. millet says:

    MM, i would use beef belly (camto) for beef adobo, not shanks. while the shanks are flavorful, adobo needs some fat, which the camto would have, and it’s just as flavorful even without the bones.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 8:55 am

  17. ami says:

    Too bad, those shanks would have been perfect for nilaga.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 10:36 am

  18. ConnieC says:

    Jun 24, 2013 | 10:37 am

  19. Clarissa says:

    The pictures look good anyway! :) But we usually use a pressure cooker for making nilaga. How different is this anyway? It’s just the last part that was different wherein your adobo had, well, adobo seasoning, and mine had nilaga seasoning. But the boiling part was the same. Hmmmmm. :) Tempted to try this.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 2:22 pm

  20. present tense says:

    I tried pressure cooking pork pata once and it turned out great for pata tim and sinigang. Literally fell off the bone

    Jun 24, 2013 | 8:02 pm

  21. PITS, MANILA says:

    i did beef-adobo using ribs. it was good. the usual “curing” to improve the taste. the crust at the bottom of the pan — for beef-adobo fried rice.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 10:11 pm

  22. Khew says:

    Brisket is great for this sort of cooking.

    Jun 25, 2013 | 1:26 am

  23. trinim says:

    A couple months ago I bought some beef shanks thinking I was going to make nilaga. Unknowlingly, my husband made it into adobo. I was anticipating pork. It was a let down to see my nilaga turned to something else. Anyway, I tasted some of it and it was not the adobo I expected. Beef just is not the adobo type of meat for me.

    Jun 25, 2013 | 3:52 am

  24. Footloose says:

    @Trinim, You’re not alone. Beef adobo is almost a staple to Filipinos whose religion/sect prohibits pork. An aunt who baby sat once for a daughter-in-law who is a devout baptist came back telling us, “ngayon lamang ako nakatikim ng adobong baka.”

    Jun 25, 2013 | 10:38 am

  25. Risa says:

    Beef adobo was not common in our home. Someone once extolled to me the wonders og guinataang baka? I’ve never heard of it. Does anyone have any idea?

    Jun 25, 2013 | 7:51 pm

  26. Footloose says:

    @Risa, Could that someone have meant beef rendang with guinataang baka? If that’s what was meant, you definitely are into something.

    Jun 26, 2013 | 2:17 am

  27. Tiffany says:

    I used to have a friend here in the US who brought beef short ribs ginataang adobo during potlucks and it was the most requested dish among our circle of friends. When I tried imitating her dish, I wasn’t successful and I’m almost afraid to take a shot at it again. But it was melt in your mouth goodness. It’s a shame she had gone back to the Philippines with her family. This goes to prove though that beef and adobo can be done successfully.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 12:38 am

  28. Risa says:

    @Footloose, not beef rendang (ooh, that got me hungry), neither was it kalderetang baka (which some cook with coconut milk). Maybe it’s like Tiffany said – beef adobo sa gata. I checked the internet and there are a number of recipes posted.

    Jun 27, 2013 | 11:50 am

  29. Gil says:

    Hi! What pressure cooker do you use? I’m planning to buy one and my research on the internet revealed brands that I don’t know where to find. Where can we find pressure cookers here in Manila aside from the SM and Robinsons Department stores?

    Jun 27, 2013 | 9:16 pm

  30. Mari of NY says:

    I got beef shanks last week and then found that you posted this… I didn’t think of adobo for beef, but immediately thought of mechado. Altho, I had my taste buds the way my mom used to make it…mine didn’t come out the way I thought it should. Hubby liked it though. I didn’t use a pressure cooker as I don’t have one but used my regular pot to simmer the meat to tenderness. I don’t know if I’ll ever try beef for adobo….

    Jun 28, 2013 | 10:39 pm

  31. Marketman says:

    Gil, I use an “All-American Pressure Cooker” which I purchased in Quiapo. It’s quite industrial looking. You can see it in this old post.

    Jun 29, 2013 | 8:43 am

  32. Kiezia says:

    I often cooked beef adobo but I never used beef shank.Maybe I try this recipe.

    Jun 29, 2013 | 1:35 pm

  33. Allen says:

    That looks great and the meat i think is very juicy but i can see the grease thats going to clog someones heart..

    Jul 5, 2013 | 4:50 am

  34. Marianne C says:

    Dear MarketMan,

    There shouldn’t be a problem pressure cooking beef shanks osso buco style to a point of tenderness at about 40 minutes. We do it all the time. It’s almost tender at 40′, and quite soft at 45′.

    However: I haven’t cooked it adobo style, so I can’t be sure now and will investigate this week :)

    That said, I am looking at the picture of the finished product, and I see dark, dried out spots on your meat. Unless you let the meat sit out for a while before you took a picture, I daresay you may have lacked liquid in the pot, either during the pressure cooking or its time in your Dutch oven. It’s worth retrying.


    Nov 1, 2013 | 4:52 pm


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