Grilled bulalo (bone 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.
What separates bulalo soup from plain nilagang baka (boiled beef) is the marrow. When you order bulalo soup, the bones come with the marrow. You tap the bone to let the marrow fall onto your plate, you can scoop it with a teaspoon or you can sip it with a straw. It’s a classic Filipino dish. In Tagaytay City, in Batangas province and even in some parts of Laguna, restaurants and eateries compete for the honor of being named the one that serves the best bulalo.
But as good as the soup is, there are other ways of serving bulalo. Grilled bulalo is one of them. Grilled or roasted bone marrow is an appetizer and you will find it among many foreign cuisines.
Grilled bone marrow isn’t something I suggest that you serve to middle-aged and old people unless you intend to be mean. As delicious as it may be, bone marrow is pure decadence. It’s fat, fat and fat. And delicious. And something to indulge in, perhaps, once every three months. Or even with less frequency.
- 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 (I used a stove top grill — see photo). 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 bulalo.
There is no need for exotic seasonings nor complicated combination of herbs and spices. Just like fresh oysters, grilled bulalo is best when uncomplicated (and untainted) by too many flavors. So, just place the grilled bulalo 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 bone marrow very hot.
Cooking time (duration): 12 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 2