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Monday, July 20, 2015


How to cook Soup Bone with Watercress
This simple method can be made in one pot, Filipino plantation style. Now listen up, these bones come from the shank of the cattle. The bones are filled with marrow, it's like a fatty substance, kind of gelatin like... and it is surrounded by meat. See pics at the bottom.

When you make soup bone, there's two ways we can do this. One is we can salt the soup bones, and roast them in an oven at about 400 degrees F, for 20 minutes, and place them in water enough to cover, and simmer them for about 2-3 hours to soften up the meat and marrow, and the flavors from the bones and meat will add not only flavor but a texture from the fats. The cons? The marrow will fall out of the bones, producing something awful for the marrow aficionados.

The other way is to just simmer the soup bones in water, 20-30 minutes will cook the marrow. And the water becomes the broth. Okay then let's get to the cooking shall we?

Go to your butcher shop, and get about 2 lbs. of beef bone marrow, and about 2-3 lbs. of beef shank with the bone/marrow. If he can, trim the bones with marrow to about 3 inches. You don't want too long marrows... why? Shorter ones cook faster.

Also, for the shanks, keep the meat on.

Get about 4 inches of ginger, trim them into some discs

Get about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, for cooking the soup bones.

The First Boil
For the first boil, get about 3 cups to 4 cups of water, or enough to cover he bones by half an inch.

1. use a 6-8 quart stock pot, preferably a stainless steel one, try and not to use a nonstick one, because the stainless provides a sticky surface for the fond when cooking, that's the flavor from the beef.

2. Place the soup bones inside the pot, with water just covering. Over high heat, boil the bones for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and empty out the water, this what I call the cleansing boil, to remove some of the grit from the product.

DIRECTIONS: Making the soup.
1. Remove the soup bones and shanks to another plate.

2. Return pot to high heat on stove, add the oil, and ginger, cook ginger until the aroma is present, return soup bones and shank to pot, sear the bones and shanks until brown.

3. Add water to cover bones by about 4 inches, bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the marrow bones, the ones without the meat. Reason is you don't want the marrow falling out of the bones. Keep it on the side for now.

4. Continue to simmer the shanks for about 2-3 hours, the meat should be soft, fork tender. If the marrow from the shanks with meat fall out that's alright. If some water (broth evaporated), add a little more water, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so...

5. Skim the top of the soup that's in the pot with a slotted spoon, and remove any impurities or scum/foam and discard it by scooping it out.

WATERCRESS (Use a bunch, tops trimmed off, and stems cut into short inch lengths.)  Keep at the ready, I'll tell you when to put em in.

Season the soup with some fish sauce, try patis the Filipino version, use a ladle full, stir it in, and taste. If more is needed add, if not stop! 

Season with some apple cider vinegar, try a ladle full, this adds tartness. Add more or less.

Keep simmering. Then add in a couple of bay leaves for aroma, and some peppercorns. Simmer for a few minutes to release the aromas.

Now that you got the soup flavored, add salt if you need to at the end, but now is the time to add in your watercress. Remember green veggies wilt quickly, so as soon as you add in the watercress, off the heat. Return the marrow bones to the soup, let it settle.

Serve with hot rice, or veggies.

These are bone marrow, it takes about 20 minutes to cook these, just remember to remove them and set them aside after the first boil with the shanks. You'll return them for about 15 minutes to begin the soup making process but you'll remove them and let the shanks cook for the soup, the reason is you want these babies to have the marrow stay in the bones, it is a delicacy to slurp out the marrow or to spoon them out, that's the gold, the rubies!

 These are the shanks, with the meat on and more marrow in the center, this will be the main source of the beef broth process, as its sister marrow bones will be removed, the shanks will do the nasty work, the meat will add flavor and richness to the broth, and after cooking will be soft to eat.

This is just one way to do it, mom did it this way, and I'm sure other cooks will do something different, but yet similar. Mom cooked with simple ingredients, as you can gather, this recipe does not have many ingredients, the ginger adds flavor and aroma, the bay leaves and pepper corns toward the end, but at the start of the broth process, the meat is melting away as well as the bones, more natural flavors from the beef is what we are after, other flavorings is to make stars of the shanks and marrow bones. 

If you can't get watercress, cabbage will do, kale will do, spinach will do, or leave it out. If you want to put carrots and potatoes in there, cut them bite size, and toss them in towards the end, simmer until softened, and you are good to go.

On the table, have some ramekins of apple cider vinegar as well as some fish sauce too, diners may want more of those in their soup bowls. Good luck!

Ron Sambrano
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