Balbacua Recipe

This collagen-rich stew is sticky, fatty, and absolutely perfect!

A rich and sticky stew made of oxskin is not a dish you think would be delicious but you’ll discover you’re wrong when you taste the balbacua

What is balbacua? 

You might think this is derived from the Spanish word “barbacoa”, but that’s a dish that’s basically a barbecue which this is not. If you speak to someone from the Visayas region, you’ll find out that the dish is a Cebuano ox skin and tail stew.

How to cook balbacua

The skin and the tails are tough parts so it requires a long cooking process to tenderize it and make it soft enough to eat. This cooking process, where the dish is commonly simmered for hours, is where the magic begins. Since the skin is stewed for hours until tender, the collagen in the skin, plus the oxtail if you’re using this cut, break down into the simmering liquid. Collagen is similar to gelatin which results in a rich and sticky soup that you’ll want to savor with every spoonful. 

The process of using oxskin in a dish requires cleaning the skin through boiling. This not only removes the impurities or scum from the skin. This ensures your soup is clear and not murky so don’t skip the step! Once that’s done, you just need to add the ingredients that make your balbacua flavorful and wait the hours it needs to tenderize and become super soft. 

The soft and tender ox skin creates a rich, sticky stew.
Photo by Stephanie Cueva




Balbacua Recipe

Stephanie Cueva
This collagen-rich stew is sticky, fatty, and absolutely perfect!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 10 minutes
Course Main Dishes, Soup
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4


Balbacua Ingredients

  • 500 Grams ox skin
  • 16 cups water divided, for boiling
  • 1 head Garlic crushed
  • 2 medium Onions thinly sliced
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger thinly sliced
  • 1 head Garlic crushed
  • 2 medium Onions thinly sliced
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass (tanglad)
  • 3 pieces laurel leaves
  • 1/4 Cup atsuete seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 pieces beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 pieces green finger chili (siling haba)
  • 3 pieces siling labuyo (birds eye chilies)
  • 3 stalks green onions Chopped, for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste


  • Clean ox skin thoroughly and cook in boiling water. Place oxskin with 8 cups water in a deep pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until scum rises to the surface of the water, around 30-45 minutes.
  • Discard the water and clean the skin thoroughly again. Bring the remaining 8 cups water to a boil, add cleaned ox skin, and 1st batch of aromatics, lemongrass or tanglad, and laurel leaves. Boil for 6 hours.
  • Halfway through the boiling period, make the atsuete oil. In a small pan, add cooking oil and atsuete seeds. When the oil becomes orange in color, remove the atsuete seeds and add the 2nd batch of aromatics. Saute until ingredients are fragrant. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the sauteed aromatics with the atsuete oil into the pot with the oxskin. Add beef cubes, siling haba, and siling labuyo or bird’s eye chilis.
  • Simmer until the skin is very soft and the broth has thickened. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with green onions on top for garnish.
Keyword stew recipe, classic, oxtail
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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