Bulalo (beef, bone marrow and vegetable soup)

Bulalo (beef, bone marrow and vegetable soup)

This bulalo recipe was originally published in December 19, 2003. I am updating it because during our recent visit to Mahogany meat market in Tagaytay City, as I watched the butcher chop the whole beef shank that I had chosen, I realized that the secret to prevent the bone marrow from falling and liquefying in the broth was so obvious, and I wondered why I didn’t think of it before.

Bulalo can mean any of three things: 1) the marrow in the bone of the beef shank; 2) the cut of the beef, i.e., bone-in beef shank; or 3) the soup itself which consists of the bone-in beef shank and vegetables. The soup is a simple dish to prepare, really; but the flavorful broth and the texture of the meat makes it a treat.

If you intend to cook beef shank as bulalo, ask the butcher to chop the shank in such a way that you have one large piece with one end open — the chopped end — while the other end, the one where the leg had been cut off right on the joint, remains closed.

In classy restaurants, bulalo commands a high price. In the province of Batangas where selling beef and beef by-products is a major means of livelihood, roads are lined with restaurants and small eateries with bulalo as a specialty. In Makati City, there is a small eatery called Soseng’s–a sidewalk affair actually–where one finds yuppies and businessmen having a lunch of hot bulalo. Street parking is a common problem. There was one time when we had to park two streets away and wait for a vacant table for several minutes. That is how popular bulalo is among the Filipinos.

Ingredients :

1 piece of bulalo (bone-in beef shank), about 1 kg. in weight
1 whole onion
1 whole garlic
1 bay leaf
6-8 peppercorns
patis (fish sauce)
1/2 head of white cabbage
250 g. of potatoes Bulalo (beef, bone marrow and vegetable soup)

Place the beef shanks in a large casserole. Cover with water. Add the whole onion, garlic (pierced in several places with a sharp pointed knife), bay leaf and peppercorns. Season with patis. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, removing scum as it rises. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for two hours (longer, for a more flavorful broth) or until the beef is fork-tender. Alternatively, pressure-cook for one hour and 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the beef shanks and transfer to a tureen or serving bowl. Strain the broth. Reheat to boiling point.

Peel the carrot and potatoes and cut into chunks. Core the cabbage and cut in half. Trim the ends of the pechay. Add the carrots to the broth and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the potatoes and cabbage leaves and simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Lastly, add the pechay leaves and simmer for another 3 minutes.

Scoop the vegetables out and arrange around the bulalo. Pour in hot broth and serve at once.

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  1. concon says

    try putting si-bot in your bulalo, a japanese wild herb that blends and add a gud oozing taste in your bulalo.

    • says

      if you add japanese wild herb hindi yan bulalo kundi buraro….were talking about pinoy cooking not japanese….mag suhi ka na lang uy…

      • Sr. a mestizo filipino-chino con sangre del español y del britisg says

        @concon…Its not Japanese…its a Chinese herb!! SIBOT literally means four herbs BTW!! Its from Fujian or Hookien Chinese style of cooking cause a lot of Fujian Chi in the Philippines… @Ala-e ” Filipino food is cook by Malays, Spice by the Chiense and flavoured by the Spanish! so only a Lurot, food cook inside a bamboo by the ethnic minorities are authentic indigenous Food! Cheers!

    • Adolfo Badiola says

      I believe si-bot Chinese herbal medicine and is a mixture of different herbs, barks and seeds, to wit, Shu Di or Chinese foxglove,Tang Gui or Angelica Sinensis, Chuan Xiong or Ligusticum, Bai Shao or Peony Alba, Chinese wolfberry or Guo Qi Zi.

  2. Sim says

    hi there! i was just browsing and i came accross on ur website by accident. I’m so glad i did for it was the best site ever. It brought back so many good yummy food memories back home. The best thing about this is so clear and easy to follow. Not to mention the pictures…. gosh…. what can i say, they’re so enticing! This definitely would mark in my favorites. Thank You Much!:wink:

  3. julie says

    I was looking for your bulalo recipe in google and happened to see a word for word copy of your recipe I thought you have a new site, do you?

  4. says

    julie, the only new site is and the bulalo recipe was not reproduced there. however, i did find the content thief via google and sent a notice already. thanks for the tip.

  5. Lolay says

    Cooking is also my passion and Bulalo is definitely a favorite. Eating too much of bulalo or bone marrow can be damaging to your heart and it’s a NO NO if you have high blood pressure. So be careful with your diet.

  6. beng says

    connie, have you tried putting corn on the cob? yung friend ko pg me handaan kami bulalo lagi daladala at nilalagyan nya ng corn. malinamnam yung soup.
    with si-bot naman, narinig ko to sa mga chinese dishes. nilalagay nga nila to sa soup nila. ang lam ko nga e its an aprodisiac e, dunno if its true.

  7. says

    I commented re: si-bot before but for some reason it wasn’t published. Si-bot is composed of 4 types of Chinese dried herbs and yes, it is an aphrodisiac, but really good and healthy kasi energizer siya. Pero with warning sa mga gusto mag-try ng si-bot, please wag gamitin if you are sick and trying to recover and if you have your monthly cycle.
    I am married to a Chinese, and I have cooked si-bot twice already in the past month with chicken naman, but I’m sure this tasty bulalo will work with it just as well…
    (sana ma-publish na ito this time)

  8. at0y says

    try nyu din po pakulo nyu yun meat hanggang lumabot with at least 6-7 pcs thumbsized ginger (wag nyu hiwain yun ginger ilagay nyu ng buo) paglumambot n yun meat lgay nyo ng salt or patis yun desired nyo alat tpos lagay nyu din ng bunch of spring onions simmer for 1min..serve nyo n ehehe…(pede nyu lagyan ng petchay kung gusto nyo may lng po happy eating and cooking…

  9. Gail Tan says

    from what I know, sibut is a chinese herb. we use it a lot on our dishes. we usually buy it in ongpin. but may mga nkikita din ako sa groceries.

      • robert says

        hi connie
        i from canada my home town is tondo manila i just want to know what kinds of chinese herbs in it could you email it to me so i could pass it to our kababayan here in canada ….thanks a lot

  10. jacob's mama says

    Oh bulalo. Reading this article and seeing the pic make my mouth water. I get the shakes. Ooohhh.

  11. Janice Bolima says

    hi there! Just to let you know when cooking with sibot, don’t mix it with other veggie ingredients, its just have to be plain sibot soup for the beef bulalo, native chicken, and the black chicken also. And that should be wrap in small cloth except for the red small ingredients there. Pang labas lang ng lasa or flavor. Happy eating…

  12. lemon says

    Ms. Connie, ah ok, so that’s how we can preserve the precious, precious bone marrow? Thanks. Everytime I have bulalo in front of me and the bone marrow is oozing out of the bone, nakakalimutan ko na mataas nga pala ang bp ko, hehe.

    We used to live in Vito Cruz and would often eat at Soseng’s. It’s always worth a visit.

  13. says

    Hi Connie,

    So do I need prop up the bulalo while in the pot to keep the marrow from spilling out the open end? I’ve tried cooking bulalo once before and ended up with an empty bone and several shriveled pieces of marrow floating around :( I’m eager to try with this cut and hopefully get a more satisfying “harvest” of marrow!
    I don’t know if I just missed it but have you done a bulalo recipe that calls for cutting the bone in the middle lengthwise and “grilling” the marrow (a different kind of bulalo steak perhaps)? I’ve seen photos of the dish from Filipino restaurants (Pepato? not sure though) and was curious.


    • says

      The marrow won’t fall off if the cooking method is dry. For the soup, simmering will create very little agitation and that helps keep the marrow inside the bone. AVOID STIRRING and keep the heat very low.

      No, I haven’t tried grilling. There are about 6 bulalo recipes in the archive though. :)

  14. Neala says

    Thankyou for your wonderful website! My Mum is from the Philippines but I never learned Tagalog so it makes learning to cook Filipino food from her recipe books quite difficult. I absolutely love bulalo and I’m glad my boyfriend is a Kiwi and finds the marrow gross – more for me, hehe.

    • says

      Our daughters belong to the “health-conscious” generation and find bone marrow gross as well. More for me and my husband hehehe

  15. Lois says

    Hi Miss Connie,
    Generally, when you say that the recipe requires an onion, do you use white onions or the purple ones? what’s the default?

  16. says

    When my friends and bought 1/4 cow to split between our families, I requested to keep the soup bones. No one wanted or even thought about to ask. So now, we have lots of bone with marrow! And if the cow is organic, does that make the marrow less gross? lol I don’t care. I’ll eat anything Filipino!

  17. carmen factora says

    to ala-e,

    that’s so funny about buraro..can’t stop laughing!

    talaga naman, as a co-worker at the UN once told me, “the hardest word in the Engrish ranguage is rorripop!”

  18. Che Yap says

    Hi! I’m kinda scared to use my pressure cooker coz it might blow up in my face. can you describe how to use one safely? i heard that we can save time and gasul when you use that to soften beef. also, are pressure cookers used only for soup dishes or pwede rin sa mga adobo (ie. konting liquid ingredients lang?) i hate tough meat! maybe you can enlighten us with a blog entry on pressure cookers, what it is used for and how to use it properly with pics!! thanks so much.

  19. julius says


    marunong ako mag luto ng bulalo pero ung hinahanap ko e yung authentic tagaytay bulalo na walang mga gulay.simpleng-simple lang sya pero pag higop mo ng sabaw sumasabog yung lasa!!
    the first time ive tried that kind of bulalo was on a trip to tagaytay gourmet farm.we stopped by this small,unfancy pasalubong center called DELI’s.i’m not sure about the spelling coz it did not matter to me anymore after tasting their rendition of the famous bulalo.i’m a fan of good old fashioned PINOY recipe’s but never have i tried something like this….subukan nyo guys,di nyo pagsisisihan.

  20. Bartvo says

    What’s Pechay and where can I get it in the Netherlands? Oh, btw, it isn’t in the ingredient list.

    For how much people is this dish as described in this recipe?

  21. brand0 says

    Nice read ate Connie. Makes me wanna try your style of Bulalo. I often cook at home. It’s my way of relaxing after a very busy schedule. And I cook it just plain simple. Onions, pounded ginger (just enough to crack it) beef shanks, simmered for about 2-3hrs patis and pepper to taste. But, what about the choice of onion? I usually use the red ones or “tagalog” as they call it. What’s the difference between white and red re: taste?


  22. paniol da greyt says

    we, batanguenos, usually use “hugas-bigas” in cooking brothy dishes like bulalo and goto… i don’t know what noticeable flavor this adds, but that’s just the way it is…

    • Connie says

      Hi Adolfo. You know, that’s why I don’t often post Filipino recipes anymore. It’s fellow Filipinos who do this to me every time. That Callcenter guy stole my Baked Mac recipe too. Worse? That does NOT have a contact info for complaints.

  23. Shirly says

    Hi, for a newbie like me, your blog is a big help. Maam connie, i tried this soup today and i was scared with putting too much patis. My soup turned out almost bland. Hehehe but my hubby still appreciated the effort. I would like to ask how much is your ratio of patis with water for this recipe? Would like to try it out again:) thank u.

      • shirly says

        ma’am connie, when should i put in the salt? together w the patis? tasting the soup should be before boiling or during simmering? i really am a certified newbie hahaha :).

          • shirly says

            thanks! i got mixed up with the site who copied your recipe. heeheh i love your blog! i love it that you explain the reason behind why such ingredients are used and also recommend alternatives. love love it!

  24. Maria says

    I have been thinking of what to cook today. Thank you guys! You save my day. I am going to try your bulalo recipe. Good Luck to me!

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