Every culture has its version of boiled meat and vegetables. In the Philippines, the generic nilaga (literally, boiled) can refer to boiled beef (baka) and vegetables, boiled chicken (manok) and vegetables or boiled pork (baboy) and vegetables. What the vegetables are vary. But, almost always, there is a combination of leafy and non-leafy vegetables.
This is nilagang baboy, an updated version of three old recipes. What’s new in this version?
Pork spare ribs instead of the more bone-y (and cheaper) cut used for soups. On the dining table, spare ribs are easier to serve in individual bowls, and they are easier to eat with just a spoon and a fork.
Saba bananas (cooking bananas native to the Philippines) are combined with yellow corn to add a lovely sweetness to the salty broth seasoned with patis (fish sauce).
And then, there’s pechay, a variety of Chinese cabbage with dark green leaves and white stalks. It’s a hybrid of bok choy. Unlike the sweetish white cabbage that we often find in nilaga, pechay has a subtle peppery flavor that adds so much richness to the dish.
Pork Ribs and Vegetable Soup (Nilagang Baboy)
Pork and broth
Cook the pork
- Place the spare ribs in a pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for ten minutes until scum has risen to the surface.
- Dump the pork into a strainer and rinse to remove all impurities.
- Put the pork ribs in a clean pot and cover with water.
- Add the onion, garlic, peppercorns and fish sauce.
- Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about an hour or until the meat is fork tender.
Cook the vegetables
- Scoop out the pork and move to a bowl.
- Discard the onion, garlic and peppercorns.
- Drop the corn into the broth and cook for ten minutes.
- Add the potatoes and cook for ten minutes.
- Add the saba bananas and cook for five minutes.
- Lay the pechay on the hot broth and press down lightly to make sure all the leaves and stalks are submerged in the hot liquid. Cook for five minutes.
- Return the pork ribs to the pot and simmer just until the meat is heated through.
- Taste the broth and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Divide the pork ribs and vegetables among four bowls, ladle in hot broth and serve.