24 Nov2005

This is my post for the fourth round of Lasang Pinoy – a blogging event that brings together over 40 “Filipino” food blogs from around the world… Check out many of the other entries by reading the round up on Lafang List that will be posted in a few days…

My original intention was to feature a grand cocido or pochero for Lasang Pinoy 4… nilaga1but the past week has been totally crazed what with the photo-napping incident, the Eye Ball, some work related issues, several events to attend, and rushing out of town for a few days over the long weekend ahead… so I decided to opt for a simpler dish though with the same soul as a more involved and extravagant cocido. Soul food for me, in any nationality, is food that warms the soul, lifts spirits, makes you happy to be who you are, and what you are. It is food that says you are okay, that life isn’t so bad, that it’s a pretty good ride, in fact. It is something that you could eat on just about any day of the year. It usually conjures up good memories or helps you avoid bad ones. Every once in a while, I contemplate life over a simple bowl of soup and I take stock and think, I have been extremely lucky. I am grateful for everything I have experienced so far. That if it so happens that my time is up and I need to move on, I will go peacefully, my soul completely content. Here is the simplest of soul food… a Nilagang Baka a la Marketman.

To make, cut some good beef brisket into large cubes. Brisket has a lot of nilaga2litid (gristle) and fat and can withstand (actually needs) a lengthy boil to get it nice and tender. Some people use a pressure cooker to achieve maximum softness but ours is currently broken. Fill a pot with about 4 times the volume of water as beef cubes and simmer beef with a chopped onion and some peppercorns for about 2 hours until tender. Skim the scum off of the top of the soup so it doesn’t have all those floaties when it’s done. You can strain this all if you want to remove some of the impurities. When the meat with soft and you have a nice hearty broth, add potatoes and/or saba bananas and cook until just done, add pechay or other greens such as cabbage or even some chopped corn on the cob, season with salt and pepper and serve hot with some steamed rice. There are several variations on this, including adding beef cubes for further flavor, using bones to add complexity to the broth, getting fancy with the greens…but whatever you do, the essence is a flavorful bowl of beef broth with some veggies and starch to round it out. Those who want to add flavor can use a dipping sauce of patis (fish sauce) and calamansi (calamondin). Throw in a chopped chilli into your dipping sauce and you have added zing as well… this is one of my all-time favorites, far more “soul food” than the fancier cocido or pochero which I promise to post sometime in December in time for the holidays… Enjoy!



  1. schatzli says:

    I just made my own nilaga baka. I was walking down the street and spotted the butcher has some beef ribs. But that wont be my soul food, I just finished with mine been contemplating my story (I know its due tom and my new domain is still being tweaked, but I cant just miss this).

    My nilaga has carrots, parsely, spring onions, pak choy, ginger of course!

    Nov 24, 2005 | 7:49 pm


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  3. francs says:

    By bones ham, do you mean ham bones? Try throwing in a small hamon serrano bone from Alba’s.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 6:18 am

  4. Marketman says:

    francs that sounds delicious… there is a whole leg of serrano in the fridge, now I know what to do with the bone after we eat all the meat! As more stuff is added, it gets closer and closer to a cocido or a pochero. A little chorizo, blood sausage, garbanzos, etc… For a plainer nilaga, some beef bones added to make the broth more complex also works…then it gets closer to bulalo…

    Nov 25, 2005 | 6:27 am

  5. gonzo says:

    Nilaga is definitely one of the ultimate comfort foods. Strangely enough, the best nilaga i’ve had in manila was at the home of an English friend. I asked her what made her version so good. She said she didn’t know but she did mention that she bought her beef at santi’s. So i suppose it was the quality of the meat. i will have to try cooking imported beef nilaga one day.

    The use of a hambone in soup is very traditional, and is essential for a really good cocido. In Madrid there are restaurants that serve only cocido–nothing else. Very hard to beat that original cocido from Spain.

    Have another chinoy friend whose aunt makes a sensational “chinese” cocido, a true original, old-time chinese-spanish fusion dish that she serves only on special occasions. it apparently takes a whole day to make and is constructed from topshelf ingredients. Friends and family from miles around make sure they are present when she decides to make it. it is sensational. i hear she may open a restaurant specializing in this special cocido. i can’t wait.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 7:57 am

  6. ichabod says:

    mmmmm. just reading your post makes me warm all over… the rich broth, the tender chunks of beef, and the added crunch of sweet corn and other veggies all make this the absolute one dish meal.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 8:14 am

  7. gonzo says:

    forgot to mention that the cocido in spain is served in two courses, first you get the soup, which is poured from a rustic earthernware jug straight into your soup bowl (in my grandmother’s house in manila it’s a ‘sopa de fideos’) and that is where you can taste the ham bone essence. delicious. Then you get the actual cocido; and in central Spain you get this ‘bola’ or ‘pelota’, or a large meat and breadcrumb dumpling (like a quenelle)as part of the dish.

    Interesting that a number of international cuisines have the equivalent of a mixed meat and veg boiled dinner– the french pot au feu, the Italian bollito misto, the new england boiled dinner, the Israeli cholent, and our own cocido or pochero (aside from spain, mexico and most of the latin american countries all have their own slightly differentiated versions). I guess comfort food is comfort food round the world …incidentally does anyone know the difference between cocido and pochero?

    Nov 25, 2005 | 8:30 am

  8. Jean says:

    Life is just too cruel. Had my first time check up with the doctor and he mentioned that I need to curtail my consumption of beef, pork, not to mention, sugary drinks and . That’s all I need to hear on this holiday.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 9:21 am

  9. Jean says:

    Sorry about that, pinky was too hyper…. Anyway, it’s sugary drinks and wine. Not happy. Not happy at all.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 9:26 am

  10. acidboy says:

    i totally agree with adding saba to the soup, though some ‘purists’ scoff at this. but the cooked banana leaves a very slight sweetness that compliments the beef. at the table, i also add good vinegar on the soup to taste.

    btw, i was meaning to ask you: putting whole peppercorn. what is the difference between putting whole peppercorn, which i think brings out only a fraction of the taste of pepper, and using freshly cracked pepper?

    Nov 25, 2005 | 9:32 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Acidboy, I put whole peppercorns into soup broths for subtlety, then add cracked or ground black pepper later to taste. Jean, I know the feeling, you should see my doctors…I just don’t go back to them for year at a time hoping I get away with it…not that I recommend you do the same… Gonzo, not sure what the difference is between cocido (most traditionally made with blood sausages, etc. and pochero which to me has bananas and local greens, corn even… Ichabod and Schatzli, you are right, this soup is incredibly comforting. I am off for three days at the beach… there will be daily posts scheduled but I won’t be able to comment. Have a good weekend everyone!

    Nov 25, 2005 | 11:16 am

  12. Gigi says:

    I like nilaga with a chunk of kalabasa. Yum! Great post, MM! Happy weekend to all of you!

    Nov 25, 2005 | 11:38 am

  13. acidboy says:

    thanks, mm!
    just had nilagang baka the other night, and i generously partook a heaping serving of steaming bulalo to mix with my rice. heaven… until i saw the wife giving me the evil eye!

    Nov 25, 2005 | 12:26 pm

  14. joey says:

    Oooh…this is yummy…am feeling warm and languid in side :) I have never had nilaga with ham bone, but I do use the ham bone from Alba’s for the base of my stock when I make fabada…excellent. Will try that with nilaga…sounds promising. I love my nilaga with patis and calamansi…and lots of crushed sili!

    From my experience, which isn’t much, the difference I observed between cocido and pochero is that in cocido, all the elements (meats, chorizos, veggies, soup, everything) are separated after cooking and served that way (separately), then you just serve as you please. With pochero, everything is mixed, so more like a hearty soup…well, at least that’s the way it has been for the cocidos and pocheros I have eaten. Also that pochero has more local ingredients. Any thoughts?

    Acidboy, am with you on the bulalo…YUM!

    Nov 25, 2005 | 3:56 pm

  15. Alicia says:

    Nilaga, pochero… must be the chill in the air (or the closest we get to it!) leading up to the holidays. There are so many variations listed.. must try them. Just to add one more, my mom adds white asparagus, fresh or canned, depending on where she is and availability and some cream of asparagus soup to the broth. It changes the consistency a little bit but by no means makes it thick or creamy. No banana though when you do this.. try it,pretty yummy too.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 5:12 pm

  16. Frayed says:

    I also have a feeling pochero is a more local version of cocido. Not as rich, maybe more of a tomato saucy thing eaten with rice while cocido’s eaten with some nice crusty bread and lots of olive oil? But I’m just guessing.

    I stopped being a “beef eater” years ago, but seeing this post made me want some, and yes, with patis and calamansi.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 5:54 pm

  17. virgilio says:

    Thank you MM for this one. This is always our Sunday treat back home except that they add chicken to it and some green papaya. Search me but I really don’t know why (and I never asked) my mom preferred to get chicken called “dumalaga” from our “manukan” but I like it esp. when they have clusters of unlaid eggs which she would add to the nilaga. And that’s the reason why I always add eggs to my nilaga every time I have to cook it. My friends find this weird but I say that’s how I like it.Will be home for Christmas so am looking forward to having the genuine nilaga of my childhood. Salamat sa alaala, MM!

    Nov 25, 2005 | 6:05 pm

  18. kulasa says:

    I too think that pochero is an adapted version of cocido. Mom serves pochero just like cocido. Meat along with the ham bone and chorizo are boiled. The soup is served separate from the meat and veggies. Banabas are boiled alone not with the soup (dad never liked “sweetened” versions of any food}. She also adds garbanzos. One thing for sure, she HAS to use chorizo marca “El Rey”.

    Nilaga at home means something like MM’s soup – without the corn. Can’t wait for your cocido post.

    Nov 25, 2005 | 10:08 pm

  19. celiaK says:

    Do you know that’s our dinner for tonight? LOL!
    What coincidence. And why is my family having it right now? We want someting comforting in a cold winter night such as this. :)
    Thanks for sharing this MarketMan.

    Nov 26, 2005 | 1:27 am

  20. Sassy says:

    it’s the simple dishes that really soothes the soul.

    we had nilaga last week. and the last one before that had been too long ago.

    Nov 26, 2005 | 1:48 am

  21. Precious says:

    Did I miss the recipe for Pochero? Is it here somewhere? I’ll keep myself warm with this wonderful recipe (thanks marketman!) in the interim, but I’d love a good traditional recipe for Pochero please!

    Nov 26, 2005 | 12:31 pm

  22. Mandy says:

    when my dad comes home from abroad, we always cook pochero for him. it’s his absolutest favorite!! we also add saba for that slight sweet taste in the broth (beefy-tomatoey-sweet). then the dip we prepare is olive oil, calamansi and bagoong. strange, but it’s delish. it’s unlike what joey says–we serve the soup 1st then another tray for the beef and veg. yummy.

    Nov 28, 2005 | 4:03 am

  23. JMom says:

    Nilaga is indeed food for the soul. It never fails to warm me up, inside and out :-)

    Nov 28, 2005 | 10:28 am

  24. fried-neurons says:

    Man! How did I miss this post?? I LOVE nilagang baka! Its beauty is in its simplicity. It is indeed quintessential Filipino comfort / soul food. I should make some one of these days…

    Dec 1, 2005 | 7:20 pm

  25. rampau says:

    This is what we do in our home. When you cook nilaga, make sure you cook a ton of it so that the left over can be made into pochero. You add ham and chorizo into your pochero of course. Otherwise, all that was in the nilaga, like chick peas, bananas, cabbage everything can go into the pochero.

    Kudos to your blog btw. I’m new here and I love it. I’m a big foodie. I love to eat! I’m in LA. I was recently in Montreal and Toronto, could have used a huge bowl of nilaga to warm up. It was so cold! Negative degrees!

    Dec 2, 2005 | 1:05 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    rampau, glad you found the site and have left so many comments in one day!

    Dec 2, 2005 | 10:04 pm

  27. rampau says:

    Yes, I was inpired to put in comments. I have my own little blog and I like it when peeps put in comments.

    Dec 2, 2005 | 11:04 pm

  28. mita says:

    Nilaga is one of those dishes you can cook almost anywhere in the world you fidn yuorself in. Thank goodness for simple and great recipes like it. My mother would make her Sunday nilaga for our big brood with beef (punta y pecho), a whole chicken, a ham bone, chorizo bilbao and something we called tocino which is sun-dried and heavily salted pork fat that my mom made from scratch. The tocino lent a very distinct taste to her nilaga and a little went a long way. Our favorite sawsawan was patis with the mashed chicken liver and calamansi. Later on, my dad introduced us to the mashed grilled eggplant or potatoes flavored with vinegar and garlic. Leftovers, if any, were always made into pochero with extra saba bananas because we all wanted a piece.

    Dec 4, 2005 | 12:53 pm

  29. Josefa says:

    This recipe is even better with beef bone just ask your butcher what you want want it for and he’ll give you the best bone for this recipe, and also add a few leaves of bay leaf very yummy.

    Feb 10, 2006 | 10:51 pm

  30. roofman says:

    Sobrang paborito ko itong nilaga. Kapag nararamdaman ko ng parang nanghihina na ko, ayun, gusto ko nang kumain ng nilagang baka. I love it especially with the saba bananas and cabbage. I’ve had different versions of this, some even with sayote. Whatever the version it usually tastes just as great. Haaaaay. Sarap.

    This food truly provides soul nourishment for me and I guess you guys too.

    Apr 6, 2006 | 4:55 pm

  31. daveneth says:

    great i love nilaga.can you post me how to make adobo with coconut milk,please.as i never try it yet.thanks

    Jul 17, 2006 | 3:12 am

  32. Marketman says:

    daveneth, I haven’t made adobo with gata yet…will keep an eye out for a recipe…

    Jul 17, 2006 | 6:23 am

  33. tapit says:

    Hiya marketman,
    How about nilagang buntot nang baka? is okay to use beef oxtail instead of the regular stewing meat?

    Sep 12, 2006 | 6:07 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    tapit, beef oxtail IS the buntot ng baka so YES it is very okay to use oxtail. In fact, in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia, Sop Buntot refers to a brilliant and delicious soup using oxtails. Vietnamese soups also use the oxtail…

    Sep 12, 2006 | 7:01 pm

  35. tapit says:

    MM, thank you for responding back about oxtail stew, at the moment my oxtail is in a process of defrosting. i will be following your recipe and will let you know how it turn out… thank you mm

    Sep 13, 2006 | 6:22 pm

  36. mylene vibas says:

    i love also the nilaga lalo pag mainit pa.Na MISS ko 2loy nung nsa manila pa ako,every sunday tlaga yun ang niluluto ko.

    Sep 29, 2006 | 11:42 pm

  37. dexter says:

    Naalala ko pa nung kabataan ko e ito ang Sunday staple namin tas completo yung aming nilaga: Beef cubes na may litid at may buto pa ng baka (with matching ‘utak’) :P. Tas cabbage and pechay. Yung pechay e bagong pitas pa sa mga nagtatanim malapit sa amin. May saging saba, patatas. Tapos tinimplahan ng sibuyas, buong paminta at habang kumakain e may patis at siling durog. That is what I call heaven. Simple lang pero pag kinain mo sya ng mainit at kasama pa ng mainit na kanin walang kapantay. Parang nasa langit ka na hehehehe. Its been awhile since I tasted a similar recipe here in Singapore pero iba talaga pag sarili kang gumawa nang nilaga kesa sa bibili ka sa labas.

    Nov 2, 2006 | 3:24 pm

  38. Beringil says:

    The best nilaga I ever had is from Gen Aguinaldo, Cavite(formerly Bailen) where my grandparents only ingredients were whole peppercorn,garlic and alibangbang leaves adn optional cabbage. They boiled a whole bi-as(beef shank)which is just sliced in three(3)places up to the bones only. They fill a huge caldero (about 2 ft high and 18″ diameter) with water and let it boil to the max for the first 5 minutes then, slow boil until the meat can be flucked by bare fingers. Alibangbang leaves are mixed or cabbage(chopped into quadrants)before serving. This is heavenly – sabi nga nang lolo ko, “lasang-lasa mo ang baka at hindi kung anu-ano pa”. sawsawan is patis with kalamunding and siling labuyo…

    Jul 6, 2007 | 2:06 am

  39. Roberto Vicencio says:

    I can not live without eating nilaga at least once a week. I served for 24 years with the US Navy and it was utter hell when I could not feast on that Sunday Special. However, with so many Pinoys in the Navy, we were able to sneak those in the menu. Now that I am back home, I alternate from Beef Nilaga to the Nilaga ng Kapampangan which my grandfather made. This contained dried ham bones you bought from the market and Chorizo de Bilbao. My grandfather’s recipe was simple. Water, onions, peppercorns, ham bones, chorizo, one chicken one kilo of liempo. The meat I use for the beef is the same one that is used for the mechado. Complete with the tendons. I usually start cooking at about 6 am so the ulam is ready for lunch. I usually partake of my viands for up to 3 days in a row. Breakfast lunch and dinner. A true soul food does not recognize the conventions of almusal, tangahlian, and hapunan. Sometimes makes for a great merienda too.

    Thank you for generously sharing your thoughts.

    Jul 17, 2007 | 12:49 pm

  40. kristine says:

    I’m gonna try this today for lunch (very late lunch! considering I need to simmer it for 2 hours, probably cooked by dinner time) I don’t know where to find ‘saba’ here, in the UK at the moment, trying to survive their crazy weather: sunny and frosty at the same time?

    But thanks fr sharing!! Will try your other pinoy recipes soon!

    Feb 18, 2008 | 9:15 pm

  41. jing says:

    Sound sooo good. I live here in CA and I am fortunate enough to find all the ingredients in one place called Seafood City =)

    Sep 28, 2008 | 1:13 am

  42. grechen says:

    in my hometown in Quezon prov we also add banana (saba)but our version is that we add the saba unpeeled, yes unpeeled,just wash the saba very well, there is extra flavor which i can’t explain but it is soo yummy!!

    Oct 28, 2008 | 7:35 am

  43. Janet says:

    We also add saging na saba. When available we use libas leaves as well.

    Jul 31, 2009 | 7:55 pm


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