Nilagang Baka – Beef Nilaga Short Ribs and Vegetables Stew

Nilaga recipe slow cooker

Video Nilaga recipe slow cooker

]AsianInAmericaBeefShortRibsNilagaTop2016After a long trip to Japan and the Philippines, we came home to the comfort of this great bowl of Nilaga beef ribs and vegetable stew. It was wonderful to enjoy home cooked meals again.

Beef Nilaga (say “knee-lah-gah”) translates to “boiled meat.” It is a classic Filipino stew that can be easily cooked by boiling the ingredients together. This is an all-in-one Filipino soup meal that is versatile. It can be cooked anywhere in the world because the ingredients are basic and easy to find in local groceries. The beauty of the dish is in its simplicity that can be transformed from a home-cooked meal to a party dish in larger portions. What I like about this soup meal is that I can always cook the meat ahead until it softens to a “bone drop” tenderness. So when the actual meal time comes, all I do is add the vegetables when I reheat the meat.

But what I like most about this main dish is that it reminds me of dinners at my childhood home. We often enjoyed Beef Nilaga on Sundays for the big lunch after church. My mom knew how to cook meat well. He also magically transformed leftovers into Beef Pochero by adding a tomato sauce-based broth or else turned the dish into a new one called “Ropa Vieja” (meaning “old clothes,” but the dish was anything but old, it was good).


After getting married and having a house and family of my own, my husband and I often visited my father in our hometown. It was comforting to know that there would be sumptuous dishes prepared for us as soon as we arrived. One of them was the strong and hearty food of Beef Nilaga.

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Back here in my American kitchen, I thought of my dad today, his birthday, when I stirred the clear broth into the pot of broth while serving the soup meal in individual bowls. I added large chunks of tender meat and made sure there were enough vegetables in each serving for my family. The aroma of a good meat broth was further enhanced with a pinch of tasty patis (fish sauce). I couldn’t wait to pour my entire bowl into piles of boiled, steaming white rice, the way we enjoyed it as kids. This was the kind of food my father also enjoyed, for its simplicity, its cordiality, and the full meal he offered to everyone at the table. And if you want to try cooking this for the first time, I offer you three ways in the recipe procedure: the traditional stove kitchen, in the Instant Pot multiple cooking or in the slow cooker.

As I silently sipped the soup and savored the juicy, soft pieces of beef with the potatoes and green vegetables, I thought about this quote I found and knew it was a sign from the universe about savoring every moment we have with our loved ones.

“It’s only when you grow up and move away from it or leave it for your own home, it’s only then that you measure its greatness and appreciate it.”


Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary depending on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe ? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you are learning to cook Filipino food or are a fan of Filipino cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books about sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

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Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand of a multicooker that cooks at high pressure or low pressure. I wasn’t paid to mention or endorse the brand. My opinions are my own. This is not an advertisement.

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