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Beefy Bulalo: A Soul-Warming Stew to Calm Crazy Days

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As kids keep us hopping like bunnies during long weekend breaks this Christmas Season, many moms find themselves frazzled like a frayed rope. Our nerves feel noodley and our patience paper thin. What’s a mama to do but dive into a pot of Bulalo? This hearty stew is like a big cozy hug in a bowl. Slow simmers ooey gooey comfort to soothe frazzled souls.

As many of my readers probably know, living here on the island of Marinduque means that it can sometimes be difficult to find ingredients that are more readily available in bigger cities like Manila. But one thing we have no shortage of here is fresh, delicious beef! And that’s the star ingredient in Bulalo.

For my non-Filipino readers who may not be familiar, Bulalo is a Filipino stew starring beef shank bone and marrow. It’s like bone broth on steroids – rich, gelatinous goodness. The beef shank infuses the liquid with unctuous umami. Simmered for hours, the marrow floods the stock with nutrients. Sipping a spoonful warms both body and soul. If Mom had antlers, they’d fall off from this restorative repast.

A pot of Bulalo bubbles to the rescue on stressful days. The smell alone lifts moods higher than a helium balloon. As it bubbles away on the back burner, tension melts like butter on toast. Stress seems a silly thought when a bowl awaits.

Making Bulalo is no walk in the park either. A lot of loving labor goes into this soupy savior. I like to ask the butcher to cut the shank or knuckle into smaller pieces for me so it cooks up nicely. Then it’s just a matter of building your broth. First, beef shanks need scrubbing under free-flowing water. The basics are boiling water, fish sauce, onion, garlic, whole peppercorns, and siling pansigang for that of so wonderful aroma. Sometimes, I like to amp it up with some extra aromatic flavors by also adding sliced lemongrass. I know not as traditional but still awesome! Let it all simmer together for several hours until the beef is falling off the bone tender. 

A few tips for the best Bulalo – go for fattier cuts of meat like shank or knuckle. The fat is what keeps the meat moist and adds so much flavor. Patience is key – low and slow is the name of the game here. And don’t skimp on the aromatic vegetables in your broth. They take it to the next level.

What to do with maddening children while Bulalo simmers? Get kids involved in prep – snapping string beans, peeling onions brings them to tears for another reason. Laughter lightens mood where anxiousness once anchored. Children feel ownership in their part, pride in helping Mommy. They relax knowing a hot bowl awaits at day’s end.

After hours of slow simmer serenades, it’s time to dive into this sumptuous stew. Aromatic aromas awaken appetite like lunch bell at school. It comforts and fills like a cozy quilt, soul and belly both. Once it’s done, I like to serve it in big bowls over steamed white rice. The broth is so rich and flavorful – it’s literally comfort in a bowl. I’ll also add some “sawsawan” (dip) like patis and calamansi -and a bit of extra heat will not be over the top for extra heat. It truly warms your soul on a chilly day. Stress seems silly when this bowl soothes and satisfies.

For parents frazzled by frolicking families, a pot of Bulalo provides perfect panacea. Immersing in its aroma alone mellows mood. Serving this savory soul food shows kids their effort means much. A few hours simmering seeps solace for days after. Bulalo bolsters batteries for remaining Christmas escapades.

So when nerves feel noodley due to naked ninos, nature nuts or nutty neighbors, dial down drama the Bulalo way. Banish bother with a bowl of this beefy brilliance. Stress will simmer down while bulking up. It’s such a hearty and comforting dish, perfect for cold weather or just cozy nights at home. Plus, it freezes beautifully so I like to make a big batch and enjoy it all week long. Bon appetit and happier days!

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HI! MY NAME IS APRIL!

Relax Lang Mom is a Pinoy Mom Blog for food, lifestyle, and simple living. I believe that you don’t have to be perfect to be a good mom. Let us give ourselves permission. Permission to not be perfect. Permission to relax. And as my son always say, out of the babes mouth, (which incidentally is where this blog’s name came from) “Relax Lang, Mom!

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