Beef Nilaga reminds me of the boiled “corned beef and cabbage” usually served during St. Patrick’s Day. Beef nilaga for me is the easiest Filipino dish you can prepare. It’s just boiling your choice of meat and adding vegetables.
For this recipe I used “kalitiran” (top blade) for the cut of meat. You may also use beef brisket or shank as a substitute.
Start by boiling your meat with onions and ground pepper (whole peppercorns are preferable) until tender. Don’t forget to skim and remove the scum from the broth as it boils. Season with salt or fish sauce, the most commonly used Filipino seasoning. This is similar to the Thai “nam pla” or Vietnamese “nuoc mam”. Just a word of warning for those unfamiliar with it, this has a very strong and pungent smell. This will also give “umami” flavor to your soup.
Add your choice of vegetables, for this I made use of bok choy (chinese greens), carrots and cucumber. As always I make do with what I have on hand. Some purist may cringe at the idea of adding cucumber to nilaga. My family has always used cucumber because it not only enhances the flavor of the broth but gives it a distinct fragrance. We also sometimes add squash for it renders sweetness to the dish.
The commonly used vegetables in making nilaga are potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Hence, it’s similarity to the boiled “corned beef and cabbage”. Since moving to the Northeast I’ve learned to substitute ingredients to what we have locally. It not only makes for an interesting dish but challenges your creativity as well.
My Beef Nilaga