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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nilagang Baka/ Nilaga for the Sick


Nilagang baka tops my list of comfort food for sick people. It was my mother's ultimate prescription for fever, flu, colds, and a host of other ailments. Being the family's sickly child, I spent most of my formative years in hospitals or at home, convalescing slowly between spoonfuls of my mother's nilaga. There are various versions of nilaga: my friend's nanay cooks his nilaga with corn all the time. My mother's version was even simpler: just some beef pieces (preferably chuck rib, other bony parts with lots of marrow) left simmering in water with soy sauce, whole peppercorns, and lots of garlic. She would add a few potato slices 'for color'.
If I were taking care of a sick person, I would give that person a bowl of nilagang baka. Nothing like nilagang baka to restore one's sense of well-being.
Here is my recipe for nilagang baka. Its not as austere as my mother's. In fact, it's a rather frivolous version - with corn, potatoes, and pechay. So beef soup for the sick person, and the act of cooking as therapy for the cook's embittered soul. Oh, I miss my photocopies of Pierre Hadot. When Im old I will publish a recipe book with a nifty title like "The Consolations of Cooking".

Nilagang Baka

Ingredients
1/2 kg chuck ribs
1/2 kg bone marrow
5 cups water
3 pcs Japanese sweet corn
2 pcs potatoes (Jumbo potatoes cause thats what was in the ref)
ground black pepper (only because I dont have whole peppercorns)
10 cloves of garlic (crushed)
patis

Procedure
1) Blanch the meat in boiling water, remove scum.
2) Add the meat and bones to the soup pot. Add 5 cups of water or so. When it boils, remove the scum again. Replace the water.
3) Season with pepper (I was sneezing my way through this part). Add crushed garlic. Add salt.
4) Let simmer slowly.
5) When meat is slightly tender, add the corn. Then add the potatoes. (2 hours into the simmering process)
6) When the meat is really tender add the pechay leaves.
7) Serve.

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