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16 November 2014

Asian Beef and Vegetable Stew in Clear Broth (Filipino Beef Nilaga)


It's been raining buckets and the wind howling outside. And to think the weather forecast for today was sunny. Our potted plants and trees are all down as usual and but I am not as bothered as I was before because I just emptied all my calamansi lemon trees yesterday morning. They are all in a large bowl in the kitchen ready to be squeezed tomorrow for pitchers of Calamansi Juice with Mint that we all love at home. Having calamansi lemons in Italy in the middle of autumn is a novelty because these plants grow in warmer climates like in the Philippines. In fact, it's a part of a lot of Filipino dishes and dipping sauces.


I have four trees that yield abundantly all at the same time then they rest at the same time too. I usually get overwhelmed with the amount I harvest but I solve that "problem" by making endless pitchers of juice and Filipino dishes using calamansi as part of the marinades or dipping sauces. Their presence in my kitchen motivates me to create Filipino dishes in continuation and one of them is this Beef and Vegetable Stew in Clear Broth. It's the dish to cook when the skies turn gray and the rain starts pouring. It's what everyone thinks of having - a hot clear broth of beef cooked for hours until very tender with vegetables, partnered with steamed white rice and a pungent dipping sauce made of fish sauce and calamansi. The sauce provides a fight between salty and sour flavors which is one of the signature characteristics of Philippine cuisine.


This Beef Nilaga, as it is commonly called in the Philippines, has a simple taste of boiled beef and vegetables. Being a lover of extreme and strong tastes, I love the dish because of the dipping sauce. Some people may not use dipping sauces but others like me rely on more underlined flavors of the dipping sauces that go with the dishes. This dish speaks of my childhood, growing up in the Philippines and going through those long and wet seasons year after year. 

Because I am in Italy, the ingredients changed slightly. Every family has a beef nilaga recipe and in my parents' house, there would always be slices of saba bananas (cooking bananas) and corncobs (which I asked my Mom to change to baby corn later on). Leeks are not commonly used but in my case, I sometimes put them when available. The parsley is purely for garnishing purposes only and is not a part of a beef nilaga dish. Oh yes, I have a perennial problem of sprinkling fresh herbs everywhere to give a touch of color to the dishes.

Get the Beef and Vegetable Stew in Clear Broth recipe at She Knows and get to know one of the classic and most-loved Filipino dishes. If you would like to see more of my recipes, go to my Profile Page at She Knows. Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

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