Soups / Stews

Tomato Bisque with Gorgonzola Croûton

Tomato Bisque with Gorgonzola Croûton

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Dinner  tonight was dictated by three factors :
# 1 – I had a big craving for soup.
# 2 – I had a lot of slightly over-ripe, soft tomatoes in my fridge.
# 3 – I was too lazy to prepare anything that kept me in the kitchen more than 15 minutes.
This bisque was the perfect solution. It only took a few minutes to chop the veggies, and once they were on the stove simmering away, all that was left to do until it was time to purée the soup after a couple of hours slowly simmering away, was to cut a few slices of white bread, butter them lightly on both sides, top it with some thin slices of gorgonzola and bake them for a few minutes in a 375F oven until the cheese melted and the underside of the bread was lightly toasted, then remove and let cool to room temperature, sprinkle with chili flakes and chopped Italian parsley. Done !
Total prep time for the soup and croûtons – about 15 to 20 minutes.
Total time from start to finish – about 2,5 hours. (The longer you simmer the soup, the more the tomato-taste intensifies ).
Enough soup for today’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Good Stuff 🙂

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for Tomato Bisque Recipe  on  ChefsOpinion
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Tomato Bisque with Gorgonzola Croûton

Tomato Bisque with Gorgonzola Croûton

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Pork Sinigang (Sinigang na Baboy)

Yesterday  I had a long-standing wish fulfilled 🙂
(Mind you, there are “BIG WISHES” in life and then there are “small wishes” This was a small wish, but nevertheless, I am happy that it finally came through)
For years, I wished there’d be a good Filipino restaurant in my neighborhood, but there is only one that I know of within a few miles around, and frankly, that one sucks!
I don’t want to go into details, but believe me, if it would be halfway decent I would still go there. I have tried it three times, but all three times it was VERY disappointing, so I stopped going there and gave up hope. Whenever I needed a Pinoy food-fix, I had to prepare it myself.
So yesterday I went to do some errands in a close-by shopping center to which I have been going for more than 15 years. Much to my surprise, I saw a “new” restaurant named Manila Grill&BBQ  tucked away in a corner. (I asked an employee how long they’ve been open and he said more than two years)
I had never noticed it before, maybe because what sticks out on the sign is  Grill & BBQ,  so one does not quickly associate this with Pinoy food………..
The place is very clean, simply but nicely appointed and the employees are very friendly, attentive and professional.
The food, THE FOOD 🙂 – it was absolutely delightful, very authentic, nicely presented and wonderfully tasty. The prices are moderate and overall, it was one of the best lunch experiences I had in any restaurant in Miami in years.
You can read more about it here: Manila Grill & BBQ, Pembroke Pines, Florida
So now, back to the dish at hand,  Sinigang Na Baboy
Sinigang is a sour soup native to the Philippines. Beef, pork, shrimp, fish, and even chicken (sinampalukang manok) can be used. The one featured here today uses pork as the main ingredient. One can use boneless pork, though bony parts of the pig known as “buto-buto” are usually preferred. Neck bones, spare ribs, baby back ribs, and pork belly all can be used.
The most common vegetables used are egglant, okra, onion, green beans, tomato and taro root.
The most common souring agent is tamarind juice, (sampalog), but if not available, you can use calamansi, lime, lemon,  guava, bilimbi (kamias), green mango, pineapple, and wild mangosteen (santol) To go an even easier route, you can buy instant “Sinigang Mix” ready to add to the stock while cooking. (For my personal taste this is too salty and not sour enough)
Today I went to look-up the sinigang I posted before on ChefsOpinion, but much to my surprise I could not find a single post, although I cook sinigang quite often. I then checked my folder of unpublished posts and low and behold, there was a bunch of pics of a sinigang I cooked about 6 years ago but never published. Looking at the quality of the pics I understand why I hesitated, but what the heck, here it is:
Sinigang na baboy from the distant past 🙂
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Masaya Ang Buhay !   Kainan Na !
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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Sinigang Na Baboy  (Pork Sinigang)

Sinigang Na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Pozole

Pozole

Pozole

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Partial  excerpts from Wikipedia:
“Pozole. Variants: pozolé, pozolli, pasole), which means “hominy”, is a traditional soup or stew from Mexico, which once had ritual significance. It is made from hominy, with meat (typically pork), and can be seasoned and garnished with shredded cabbage, chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa and/or limes.
It is a typical dish in various states such as Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Morelos, State of Mexico and Distrito Federal. Pozole is served in Mexican restaurants worldwide.
Pozole is frequently served as a celebratory dish throughout Mexico and by Mexican communities outside Mexico. Common occasions include Mexico Independence Day, quince años, weddings, birthdays, baptisms, and New Year’s Day.
Pozole can be prepared in many ways. All variations include a base of cooked hominy in broth. Typically pork, or sometimes chicken, is included in the base. Vegetarian recipes substitute beans for the meat.
Dried hominy can be used for pozole, but it must be soaked and cooked
The three main types of pozole are blanco/white, verde/green and rojo/red.
White Pozole is the preparation without any additional green or red sauce. Green Pozole adds a rich sauce based on green ingredients, possibly including tomatillos, epazote, cilantro, jalapeños, and/or pepitas. Red Pozole is made without the green sauce, instead adding a red sauce made from one or more chiles, such as guajillo, piquin, or ancho.
When pozole is served, it is accompanied by a wide variety of condiments, potentially including chopped onion, shredded lettuce, sliced radish, cabbage, avocado, limes, oregano, tostadas, chicharrónes, and/or chiles.
Pozole was mentioned in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún‘s General History of the Things of New Spain (c. 1500). Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of maize (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars, because the ancient Americans(which?) believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough).”
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According to research by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History) and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on these special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human. After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with maize, and the resulting meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the Conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it “tasted very similar” [to human flesh], according to a Spanish priest.

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Pozole

Pozole

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Pozole

Pozole

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Preparation :
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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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The  style of this curry soup has it’s origins in Europe. As I mentioned in previous posts, many decades ago, when I was an apprentice in Europe, “curries” were prepared the European way, nothing at all like “real curries” as they exist in far-away land’s 🙂
Madras curry powder, ground cumin, cream or milk, onion and banana and chicken stock were the main ingredients in our “curries”. They usually contained chicken or shrimp and were thickened with flour, or in the case of soups, with rice or potatoes. Although not in any way “authentic”, they were nevertheless (and still are!) very delicious in their own way.
During the years Maria and I gave regular dinner parties,  we served this soup often and it was always a hit as part of a multi-course meal.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Curry  on  ChefsOpinion
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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

Curried Pumpkin, Potato And Coconut Soup

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Balls Galore

Balls Galore........

Balls Galore……..


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“Chicken Soup With Matzo Balls And Chicken Dumplings” 

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If  you love balls (pun intended?), this soup will make you happy. In my own opinion, these chicken balls (ok then, dumplings ! 🙂 ) and these Matzo Ba… Dumplings 🙂  are some of the best dumplings  you can find .
I have previously published quite a few dishes with matzo balls, but this is the first time I combine them with chicken dumplings.
One would think that chicken dumplings are nothing special, but these certainly are an exception to the sea of mediocre or even outright nasty stuff usually being served as chicken dumplings these days.
Very light and full of flavor, they are a far cry from the stuff which many “cooks” will serve you. How do I know that? Because I have been served so much crap labeled as chicken dumplings that I usually don’t order them in restaurants anymore. Mostly they contain less than fresh meat, lots of fillers and they look and taste as if somebody want’s to punish you by making you eat them.
Not these here baby’s !
Prepared from fresh chicken meat with no fillers, tasty and pretty to look at, accompanied by another gift to comfort food in the form of fluffy matzo balls and served in a strong, delicious chicken broth, this is comfort food as wonderful as it can get 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Matzo Balls  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Chicken Soup Recipe  on  ChefsOpinion
Pls note that this chicken soup recipe is just one version of many 🙂
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Balls Galore

Balls Galore

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Balls Galore

Balls Galore

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Balls Galore

notice how juicy the chicken dumplings are………..

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Preparation :
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Pork And Noodles In Two Parts – “Part One”


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Usually , I prepare one dish with enough ingredients  to last me for two meals, then just re-heat the left-overs for the next meal, which I intended to do this time as well.
I made a large pot of soup for lunch, enjoyed two bowls of it and then proceeded to put the left-overs in separate containers and into the fridge to be re-heated for dinner.
One container for the pork, one for the noodles, then strain the vegetables and store the veggies and the broth in another two containers , put it all in the fridge, washed the dishes and sat down to watch a movie.
Halfway through the movie, it occured to me that I had only put THREE containers into the fridge, when there should have been FOUR! Low and behold, when I checked, there were only three containers in the fridge – and a sparkly-clean one in the dish rack.
Quel Gâchis !….. I had strained the delicious broth into the sink instead of into the container 😦
So later when dinnertime came around, I had to start improvising for a new dish with the left-overs which were still available.
First, I put the veggies to the side to be  Eugene’s  meal the next day.
This left me with just noodles and pork, from which I prepared “Crisp Yi Mein Noodle Pillow With Fiery Chile Pork”.
And wow,  what a glorious dish this was !!! I could not have planned it better if I wanted to…….(Well, maybe) 🙂
More of “Crisp Yi Mein Noodle Pillow With Fiery Chile Pork” in my next post :  Pork And Noodles In Two Parts – “Part Two”
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Noodles  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Soup  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Pork  on  ChefsOpinion
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Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

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Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

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Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

Ginger/Garlic Pork Soup With Vegetables And Yi Mein Noodles

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Am  I the only one who wishes dishes like this would widely be available in restaurants??
I am getting so very tired of seeing the same, mostly mediocre food on most restaurant menus. Of course there are a few exceptions, but these are mostly very high-end and not within reach of most of us on a regular basis. Then there are the ethnic restaurants, but most of them serve the same, “Westernized or Americanized fare. Same steaks, same salads, same sandwiches, same pasta dishes, same stews, etc, etc, etc.
I long for “the good old times” of food service, when restaurants had personality and the menu was a mirror of the chef’s ideas, passion, culinary abilities and standards, as well as the seasons and regions offerings and the owners personal and professional pride.
Going to a new restaurant used to be about discovering new dishes, new ingredients, new pairings, new preparations, new presentations. Most of all, it was about food – how it looked, smelled, tasted. People used to eat not one monster-sized dish, but a menu consisting of dishes of different textures, colors, fragrance, taste and presentation, harmoniously presented in logical order and appreciated for the effort that went into it to be as perfect a meal as possible. Most of all, one was able to identify the food that was presented, by its looks, aroma and taste. Customers appreciated any food that was prepared to a high standard, no matter how expensive and rare or how simple and ordinary the raw ingredients were. What counted was the mastery with which raw ingredients were transformed into food that could be enjoyed for its own sake.
My point, you ask?
A few days ago I was invited to one of the most famous, most expensive, most “in” restaurants in Miami, situated in one of the very  fancy and famous hotels down by the beach.
The surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful, the service excellent, the menu sounded exciting and alluring.
There were eight of us, mostly hospitality professionals and the host of our party who has traveled the world and is a food-fanatic. We ordered twelve appetizers,three different soups, twelve main courses, a variety of desserts and cheeses, all to be tasted and shared between us. Most folks had wine, a couple had beers and I had water. We had apéritif’s (OJ for me) and coffee.
The bill was $2330.00, plus tip.
While this seems reasonable for the location, the amount of food and the good wine, the quality of the food would have warranted a total bill of maybe $800.00 😦
While some of the dishes were complete misses, most of what we ate was decent and some of it was actually good, NONE of it was very good, let alone outstanding. Halfway through the meal we started talking longingly about really good food  we had in other restaurants, cities and countries (none of it in Miami).
I have read numerous reviews about this place, some good, some bad, some so so. But my own experience at this place has once more convinced me that the main reason we have so many mediocre restaurants around here is because most of the clientele at such “modern, popular dining establishments” are not handicapped by good taste, experience or common sense but rather solely interested to see and to be seen by like-minded folks for which the quality of the food is secondary. Therefore so many “Chefs” who are less than qualified to be at the helm of a great restaurant are heading a bunch of restaurants who exist only because of huge sums of money spend on PR instead of being spend on talent in the service and the kitchen.
Well folks, I had to vent a bit here……….
So, back down to earth and to the dish at hand, which I and most of my fellow diners in our group would have gladly exchanged for the offerings we received at said restaurant 🙂
And there you have it.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Please note that I am aware that there are many excellent restaurants to be found in this country (very few in Miami)
However, it usually takes a good amount of luck, insider knowledge and/or money to find and enjoy them.
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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ'd Corn

Potato Soup With Smoked Pork Shanks, Fried Shallots And BBQ’d Corn

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

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Some  say the king of  cold soups is gazpacho and I, (for once) don’t argue 🙂
Sadly, these days the traditional custom of having a soup before a main course as part of a menu has mostly disappeared, especially here in North America. Even for special, celebratory dinners, soup is usually an afterthought, and chilled soup is nearly non-existent.
However, there is a myriad of wonderful cold/chilled soups out there, mostly ignored and even forgotten in these times of ever-increasing food-sensationalism 😦
Back in the day when I was a soup cook on Royal Viking Sky (1974), we served 8 different soups daily.
Consommé or beef tea between 10.00 am and 11.00 am.
For lunch it was a chilled soup, a consommé, and a vegetable cream soup.
For dinner,  a chilled soup, a consommé, a vegetable cream soup and a silky seafood soup or a hearty meat-based soup.
Besides the beef tea, none of the soups were allowed to repeat itself for the duration of a voyage that lasted less than a month, so we had quite a repertoire of soups.
While cruising in the hot parts of the world, chilled soups for lunch were extremely popular, especially the berry and stone fruit varieties.
In colder parts of the world and during dinner, classics like red or white gazpacho, vichyssoise and creamed vegetable soups led the parade of favorite chilled soups.
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Today’s soup is especially refreshing and therefore perfectly suitable for the scorching heat that has “blessed” us in Florida lately. As you can see from the size of the serving in the photos below, I actually had the soup as a small lunch. (Two helpings, to be truthful 🙂
A word of advise:
Check/adjust the seasoning of the soup AFTER chilling it and just before serving, since a chilled soup looses much of its flavor when chilled. Nothing worse than a bland chilled soup 😦
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

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Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

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Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

Chilled Spicy Cucumber And Avocado Bisque

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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No Name Soup

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This delicious soup follows the popular “whatever I find in the larder” principle. 🙂
Today, I found beef bones, mushrooms, canton noodles, eggs, cabbage, chinese sausage and fried shallots, which, together with a bit of time for the broth,  is all you need to prepare this tasty delight.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Soup  on ChefsOpinion
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No Name Soup

No Name Soup

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No Name Soup

No Name Soup

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Preparation :
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Bulalo (Kansi) Beef Marrow Bone Soup

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Beef Marrow Bone

Beef Marrow Bone

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The  first time I had the pleasure to eat this soup I fell in love with it. It was at “Pistang Filipino”, an open air arts and craft center in Manila. (Little did I know then (1974), that a few years later I would be living next door for nearly five years). However, during my first visit, a couple of friends and I went there to have a proper, traditional “Pinoy” dinner. It turned out to be one of the best meals in my entire life. Pancit sotanghon and pancit bihon, huge grilled prawns for $1 a piece, kare kare, adobo, lechon, sisig, sinigang, bulalo and a whole lot of other wonderful dishes, all spread out on a huge buffet. There were woven bamboo plates with palm leaves to put your food on and coconut shell spoons for the soups. Most of the food was eaten using one’s fingers as utensils. Lined up along one wall were water containers with spouts to facilitate hand washing before and after the meal. The food and entertainment (tinikling , traditional Philippine folk dancing) was superb and to this day I remember almost every minute of that evening. Years later when I lived next door, I went there once or twice a month, mainly for the bulalo . However, I quickly became less enthusiastic about the tinikling. While beautiful to watch, its accompanying music, which was always played at maximum levels, kept me awake many a night until the wee hours 😦
Such is my love for bulalo that until this day I prepare it at least once a month. I mostly use thick sliced shank (osso buco), but when available, I buy a whole leg bone and have the butcher cut it into 4 pieces, 2 of which I use at once and 2 which I freeze for the next going of bulalo or any other beef soup.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here to watch a video of  Tinikling
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Bulalo

Bulalo

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Bulalo

Bulalo

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Bulalo

Bulalo

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Bulalo

Bulalo

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Preparation :
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