Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Care of the Soul begins with Right Eating of Right Foods

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are, says a wise nutritionist.

One glum, dark, gloomy day when rains were robustly coming down, I wanted to infuse some life into my home.  Well, I could not turn on anymore lights.  But, I wanted my home to feel like it is lived in, populated by energetic, vibrant folks.  Well, we are vibrant, we are energetic, but when we work out so hard, we feel so weary and tired, almost without any energy left to make meals.  Not a right attitude, as we pay for it in terms of aches and pains. So, after resting quite a bit, I decided to pull out the frozen beef shank and make a soup called bulalo. But, then, I just went to the produce store, so I had leeks, two ears of corn, purple potatoes, green cabbage, and saba bananas.  So here goes:

1 beef shank, cut up into cubes, like beef stew serving sizes
1 leeks, chopped finely
chervil leaves, chopped
1 young garlic bulb with leaves, chopped finely
a whole garlic clove ( mince the segments and over heated olive oil, brown them, and set aside )
purple potatoes, cubed and do not bother to peel
corn on the cob, remove the husk ( that is the outer skin ), split into half
saba bananas ( they are like plantains, but smaller and tastier ) - remove the peel and cut in half
green cabbage ( slice in 8 wedges )
bok choy
asparagus spears ( 8 )

Yes, it feels like the beef shank is merely an accessory. It almost is, except the fragrant marrow is the big star, as it gives the soup its unique flavor. So, get your big pot, heat it up. Add olive oil and then add right away the leeks, young garlic bulb, some garlic.  Caramelize the leeks and add the beef cubes and shank. Brown the meat and add fish sauce and salt to taste.  After the meat changes color from raw to somewhat cooked, add four cups of water. You might need more as you tenderize the shanks to a texture of easy to chew.  Taste the broth, is it to your liking?  If it is, leave it alone to boil at the slowest, lowest flame.  Keep at it for several hours until you taste the flavors blending out to mellow out each other.

The veggies before they were added to the puchero/bulalo stew: Corn on the cob, leeks, purple potatoes, bok choy.
Then, a series of cooking the veggies.  Cook asparagus, it takes a few seconds, as soon as the stalk changes color from white to almost green, remove and set aside. Add potatoes and when it is semi-soft, remove.  Add the cabbage and it takes a few minutes, do not overcook as overcooked cabbage taste soggy and somewhat bitter, while cabbage that is somewhat crunchy still is kinda sweet.  When cooked to your liking, set aside.  Add corn, and when all the kernels are cooked to your liking, remove and set aside.  Add bokchoy, it only takes a few seconds to cook this vegetable.  Set aside.  Then, cook saba bananas or plantains, and set them aside.

Keep boiling the beef cubes and the shank.  At some point, you will notice the meat tenderizing. When fully cooked to your satisfaction, take a good bowl, layer it with the vegetables or surround the meat with the vegetables.  Serve with hot bowls of rice or without, as in my case, since my trainer forbade me from eating refined carbs. I settled into eating two cubed potatoes, a quarter of a whole potato that is.  Remember to place the brown garlic chips over the serving plate.

This is the key, as the garlic smell plus the well made soup and the blending of all different colors: brown, purple, green, yellow makes this such a delectable, tempting soup that brightens any rainy day.  Do not forget to thank the chef who labored to get the veggies, the meats, chopped them and cooked them with all the loving details.

Okay, let me know how it turns out, but this is really a hybrid of Sunday's meal that my mother, Asuncion Abarquez used to serve us, puchero, and because I love bulalo so much, I am using beef shank. This way, I get the best of both worlds, remembering my mom's cooking and doing my own version.  Now, I am also leaving this in my blog for my family and friends to also try.


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