Ah, the ubiquitous boiled meat and vegetables that is comfort food in so many cultures. Is the simplicity that makes it appealing? Is the memory of growing up with the dish? Whatever the reason, we love it. I’ve cooked it in so many ways — plain, with bone marrow (yes, bulalo!), Irish style, South American style, with cream of chicken — and they’re all good.
But have you tried cooking meat and vegetables with soy sauce and a bit of sugar? Oh, it’s beyond words!
I’ll keep this short and sweet.
First, you want a beef cut with bones — like short ribs. You won’t get a richly-flavored broth without the bones. Cook the meat — with the bones — as you ordinarily would with a head of garlic, a whole onion and some peppercorns (you can check out the linked recipes above if you need a guide). But, instead of the usual salt, or probably patis (fish sauce) if you’re Asian, use a combination of soy sauce and salt. Not soy sauce exclusively because you don’t want the broth to turn too dark. A reddish-brown broth with just a hint of the flavors of soy sauce is ideal. Add a teaspoonful of sugar and throw in a bay leaf.
So, just simmer the beef until the meat is so tender that it separates from the bone when lifted. Add the vegetables (cabbage and potato wedges are fine; no need to get fancy), add a little more salt as the vegetables will soak up the saltiness of the broth, simmer for another 15 minutes or so until the vegetables are done.
Don’t forget to fish out the garlic, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf before serving.