Did You Know That Changing One Ingredient Turns Your Nilaga Into Bulalo?

One ingredient changes the dish!

Who doesn’t want to sit down and have a hot and comforting soup? We sure do! Some think a hot bowl of soup is the perfect meal to eat at any time of the day. 

If you’re looking for a bowl of beefy soup, are you looking for a nilaga or a bulalo? It’s a valid question! There is little that makes these two dishes different! But there is one glaring ingredient difference that can make the giant steaming soup terrine of bulalo you enjoy having at Tagaytay different from a bowl of nilaga you would otherwise have at home. 

How is the nilagang baka recipe different from the bulalo recipe? 

beefy mushroom nilaga
Photo by Majoy Siason

If you take a good look at both dishes, you’ll see that the kind of beef used is different. The nilaga recipe commonly uses beef chunks. The bulalo recipe meanwhile is made with beef shanks. This change in the cut of beef makes all the difference. 


When you use meat cubes in a dish, you automatically get a dish that’s meatier because you’re simmering the flavor from the meat into the soup. When you use bones, you are simmering not just the meat but also the bones, the ligaments, and the tendons attached to these pieces. These two cuts of beef basically make two different kinds of soup. 

spicy beef bulalo
Photo by Majoy Siason

The soup you’re making depending on what you’re making the soup with is either a broth or a stock. The nilaga is actually a beef broth while the bulalo is a beef stock. The difference is this: A broth is made with meaty cubes. This can be beef cubes as the case is for the nilaga or chicken or pork cubes for those basic broths.  

A stock recipe, however, is always made with bones. Whether these pieces of bones have meat, doesn’t matter. The mere fact that you’re using bones automatically classifies your soup as a stock. The kind of bones you use determines what kind of stock you’re making. You use beef bones, pork bones for pork stock, and chicken bones for chicken stock.  


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The rest of the recipe can also be a defining difference for both recipes. Do you plan on adding corn cobs into your soup? Then you must be making a bulalo! Are you sticking to just the cabbage, potatoes, and green beans? Then you’re making nilaga

Since you now know the difference between these two beef soup dishes, you can easily decide what beef soup you’re going to enjoy when it’s time to cook it at home. 


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