Bulcachong is a Filipino Soup dish prepared with carabao meat, a type of water buffalo where it is slowly simmered with spices and lots of ginger until it is fork tender.
The first time I saw this dish is from one of my favourite YouTube stars Sonny Side from Best Ever Food Review Show when he visited Davao, I honestly never tried the real one but I will try to recreate it basing on his video as well as other videos that showcase this dish, while I did not use carabao meat as it is impossible to get it here, the next best thing is beef and trust me the meat taste nearly similar. Most of the videos I found online says that this dish is gingery, meaty and thick and that is what we will be trying to achieve today.
Bulcachong is the name of the dish, it is also the name of the eatery where it was invented by Master Chef Chong. The concoction is a closely guarded secret but reverse engineering it will be easy specially if you know the common ingredients in the Philippine cuisine. Like I said the biggest giveaway is the ginger due to its taste. Most dishes in the Philippines start with garlic and ginger, so we add that to the ingredients. The orange colour probably comes from annatto seed (red) and turmeric (yellow) combination then the lemongrass which is very evident on most videos. All we got left is to flavour it and thicken it, usually the collagen in the meat helps a lot but you can increase that by adding a small amount of flour, then to make it even more special we added some liver spread and paprika to give it a unique taste then we season it with fish sauce and freshly ground black pepper.
The result was good, almost similar to bulalo but with a punch from ginger, like minanok or beef lauya but without the vegetables, like tinola but using a different meat. I love it, its hearty, it’s very satisfying, your lips will thicken with the rich collagen soup. I hope I get this right and hopefully can try the real thing in the future, but if anyone out there who tried the real dish, can you please give it a try and let me know how close am I.
In a large heavy pot heat oil then brown meat pieces on all sides, do this in batches. Once browned remove from pot then set it aside.
In the same pot add more oil if needed then sauté garlic, onions and ginger.
Add the meat back then pour the beef stock, add lemongrass and spring onions. Top up with water just enough to cover all the meat, bring to a boil, cover then simmer for 1 1/2 hours in low heat. Occasionally check liquid levels and add water if necessary.
Get a bowl, scoop some soup from the boiling the meat, then dissolve liver spread, flour, turmeric powder, annatto powder and paprika. Once dissolved pour it into the pot.
Season with freshly ground black pepper and fish sauce. Continue to simmer in low heat for 30 minutes.
Check if meat and tendons are tender, if meat is tender and tendons are not, remove meat from the soup then continue simmering then tendons in low heat for 1 more hour or until soft. Bring back the discarded meat, simmer for 5 more minutes then serve.