This is an updated version of my grilled beef bone marrow (inihaw na bulalo) recipe originally published on November 18, 2009. The recipe is the same but the post now includes a few trivia about the much-maligned substance found inside the bone of animals.
Less than a decade ago, people were warned about the dangers of consuming bone marrow. It is too fatty, we were told, and much too high in cholesterol. It was a no-no for people suffering from hypertension and heart ailment. Even perfectly healthy folks were told to stay away from it. Good thing I never listened to all that crap.
In a 2015 article in Livestrong, the myeloid and lymphoid stem cells, and collagen in bone marrow have been pinpointed as beneficial to our health. Bone marrow helps our body repair itself and even help with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
It’s not like we need convincing here in Asia where bone marrow has formed part of our traditional diet since long before I was born. Why do you think beef shanks are chosen for making pho broth in Vietnam? Yep, it’s all about the marrow.
Most Filipinos know bulalo as a specialty soup dish of the province of Batangas. The broth is made by simmering beef bones for several hours and the soup itself is served with the bones, a little meat and a medley of vegetables. In the Visayas, a similar soup is called kansi.
In Indonesia, soup with bone marrow is known as sumsum.
But as good as bone marrow soup is, there are other ways of serving beef bone marrow. Grilling is one of them. Grilled or roasted bone marrow is an appetizer and you will find it among many foreign cuisines.
Grilled Beef Bone Marrow (Inihaw na Bulalo)
- 1 large beef bone with marrow
- lemon or lime slices
The bone used in this recipe is from the leg. When you buy the bone, have the butcher machine slice it. Vertically, I suggest, as so there’s little danger that the marrow will fall off during grilling. How is that possible, you may ask, since the marrow is more exposed that way? There’s a trick.
Heat the grill. Place the bones on the very hot grill, marrow side down. You just want to sear it at this point.
After three minutes, flip the bones and season the marrow with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat (or move the rack higher if using a charcoal grill) and cook for seven to ten minutes. Bone marrow does not take long to cook. If you cook it too long, the marrow will just melt and there’ll be nothing for you to indulge in.
If any meat and fat attached to the bone are still raw by the time the marrow is done, don’t think they have to be fully cooked before serving the marrow. No — the bones can go into the pot later to make broth. You just want the marrow so that’s all that’ll have to be cooked through for purposes of serving grilled beef bone marrow.
There is no need for exotic seasonings nor complicated combination of herbs and spices. Just like fresh oysters, grilled bone marrow is best when uncomplicated (and untainted) by too many flavors.
So, just place the grilled bone marrow on a plate with slices of lemon or lime on the side that can be squeezed over the fatty marrow. For a contrast in texture, add some finely sliced onion leaves.
To compliment the lemon and to get rid of the fatty sensation in the mouth (not nice once the bone marrow starts to get cold), add a small amount of freshly sliced mint leaves.
Serve the grilled beef bone marrow very hot.