How to cook: Bulalo (beef, bone marrow and vegetable soup)

How to cook: 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.

  • agapito meneses

    hi can u send me more classic menu,b-fast,lunch dinner dessert soup, drinks?salamat po

    • Connie

      Agapito, there is a subscription service on the side panel. You can use that if you wish.

      • ice

        i want to take my hubby to sosengs this weekend… where is this exactly?

  • Connie

    Dian Street, ice. :)

    • trish

      i want to cook bulalo batangas style…what are the ingredients?
      pls help…..

      • trish

        anybody in there…………….

  • trish


  • http://yahoo louellen

    i didnt try it yet but im gonna do it soon. i hope you can have a sending part so i can send it to my sister abroad.

    • Connie

      louellen, why not just send the URL? The “e-mail to a friend” function kasi is so prone to abuse by SPAMMERS.

      • merlot11

        this bulalo recipe seems to be yummy.i’m gonna give it a try over the weekend.

        • Sim

          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:

  • julie

    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?

    • Connie

      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.

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  • carla

    wow what a pinoy foods, thxs for making that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Hi to edward,hannah,enna,emy and yani

  • Lolay

    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.

    • beng

      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.

  • Connie

    Happy Joy, daming magnanakaw sa Multiply.

    Beng, in my nilagang baka, yes (which is basically the same except for the bone marrow).

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      • peterb

        Sibot is available at Cherry. Spice section. I use sibot in my korean beef stew. Maybe i’ll try it with bulalo.

        • Connie

          Now that you mention it. I still have a pack if sibot somewhere. And I like your idea of using it for bulalo. :)

          • robert

            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

          • Connie

            They come prepacked. About five herbs inside in a predetermined proportion.

          • Adolfo Badiola

            I just want you guys to know that there is another recipe posted in a website where the instructions in the Bulalo recipe is the same as yours, word for word.

            Please check:

            I am sure Speedy and callcenterguy are not one and the same person.

          • Connie

            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.

  • jacob’s mama

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

    • lemon

      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.

      • Connie

        Speedy and I used to go to Soseng’s when we were still both working in Makati. Miss Soseng’s and Suzukin.

        • Tessa Mendoza Cruz

          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.


          • Connie

            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. :)

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  • Janice Bolima

    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…

    • Neala

      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.

      • Connie

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

        • claudine charie

          hay!!! miss ko na bulalo, kaya lang bihara lang ako matyempo ng bone marrow sa grocery :(

          • Frugal Friend

            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!

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          • Che Yap

            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.

          • Connie

            My pressure cooker’s been out of commission for some time now. My best advice is for you to read the manufacturer’s manual carefully.

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          • http://n/a Nitro

            Salamat sa sangkap ng bulalo, malaking tulong sa araw ko

          • Maria

            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!

  • Lois

    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?

    • Connie

      White. :)

  • carmen factora

    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!”

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    • http://yahoo Robert Dave ALonzo

      Have you ever used Meat Tenderizers like papain, bromelain, etc…,, thesis kc nmin,, beef bulalo ang component…

      • Connie


        • http://yahoo Robert Dave ALonzo

          Would You Think they might affect the cooking hours of beef bulalo and so with the traditional taste of it?

          • Connie

            It’s your thesis. Why don’t you try using meat tenderizers and find out the answers to your questions?

          • Joseph


          • julius


            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.

          • Robert Dave Alonzo

            How many kilos of beef bulalo that are good for almost a hundred persons?

  • brand0

    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?


  • rojhel

    do you know how too cook beef mami like the one in pinsec house recto manila?

    • Connie

      Restaurant recipes are highly guarded secrets.

      • Alunsina

        starting early and cooking this now. hope to eat it by lunch. :P

        thanks connie.

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    • Shirly

      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.

      • Connie Veneracion

        The amount of seasoning is always a matter of personal taste. There is no universally correct ratio. :)

        • shirly

          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 :).

          • Connie Veneracion

            Hi Shirly,

            Salt in not listed as an ingredient here.

            Taste several times during cooking and after the dish is done, adjusting the seasoning as needed each time.

          • shirly

            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!

  • fred

    I like local bulalo without adding new ingredients . Tasty and superb

  • concon

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

  • Connie

    Oooh, I new new twists to old dishes. I’ll look out for that one. Thanks. :)

  • http://bulalo ala-e

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

  • Adolfo Badiola

    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.

  • jell

    tastes really good!but where can we can si-bot?got to try that one

  • Lianne

    Found the spice sibot selling at your favorite SM Supermarket.

  • mell ditangco

    everytime i cook bulalo I come back here… this is my electronic cookbook… lol

  • Connie

    i’m still looking for it myself, jell.

    mell, a toast to bulalo! :grin:

  • Hazel Chua

    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)

  • at0y

    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…

  • Gail Tan

    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.

  • minerva real

    thanks po ng marami.dami ko natutunan sa inyo.GOD .BLESS

  • Bartvo

    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?

  • Connie

    Try looking for bok choy or pak choi.

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

    @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!

  • paniol da greyt

    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

    No flavor at all. The starch simply thickens the broth.

  • angustia

    I’ve always wondered what the secret is in making the broth really clear. I will try your method one of these days. It’s hard to find a good beef-shank in the grocery stores here, so I’ll probably will end up using beef bones and blade roast parts.