Sunday, October 6, 2013

Balbacua Cebu via Bacolod

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is a doctor's nightmare come to life in a bowl but definitely a gastronomic delight. Considered a street food in Cebu, this dish is definitely very unique in the same manner that Kansi is unique to Bacolod or the KBL to the Visayan region. A testament to living in Asia where every bit of animal part is used to maximize the use of a domesticated animal, this dish uses ox cheeks, feet and tail. If you are from the West, you might think it very unappetizing and indeed, as Andrew Zimmern would refer to such fare, bizarre.  However, with an open mind, you might just learn to love this dish.

I normally don't use these animal parts because I never learned how to cook them properly. It was just upon the urging of a good friend that I decided to give it a try. My first introduction to the dish was months ago in a small eatery outside the hotel we were staying at during a conference. For the meager and almost dilapidated look of the place, I was surprised and thought that they had the best omelet, hands down. I ordered those bad boys for breakfast every morning with no fail. It was during one of our visit however, that I came upon this dish. My friend who hails from Cebu ordered the dish and with me having gout issues, I watched in awe and a bit of concern for him at the same time as he ate the dish with such gusto. I was also left wondering as to how he can enjoy such fare when all I see is cholesterol in stew form. I decided I wanted to give it a try the next day but unfortunately, they did not have it and we were scheduled to go home the next day so I never learned how it tasted. Thus, it was left in the back burner until it kept popping into my head a number of times. My final inducement was from the said friend who finally told me to make it and so I did using this recipe as my starting point. Do read the blog post if you have the time for it is quite hilarious.

Balbacua Cebu via Bacolod

8 lbs ox tail, cheeks or feet, cut into serving pieces
6 star anise
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 /4 cup salted black beans, drained
1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 small bundle of lemon grass stalk
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 picante chile
10 cups beef broth
salt and pepper
4 tbsp vegetable oil
9 saba half-ripe bananas, peeled and halved
1/3 cup green onions, diced

1. In a large pot over medium high heat, boil the meat with the bay leaves 
    and half the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to boil for 
    another 20 minutes. Discard the liquid and rinse the meat thoroughly. 

2. In another large pot over medium high heat, saute the garlic with the 
    remaining onions in the vegetable oil until slightly browned and season 
    with salt and pepper. Add the ginger, star anise, red pepper flakes and 
    the lemon grass and saute for another minute. 

3. Add the soaked white beans and black beans and mix until seasoned. Pour
    in the broth together with the meat and bring to a boil. 

4. Once boiling, adjust the heat to medium low and simmer covered. This 
    will be the longest part of the cooking process. Simmer for about 5-6 
    hours or until the meat is very soft and is almost falling apart. Add more 
    water if necessary making sure you have enough broth covering the 
    simmering meat. 

5. Add the bananas and the picante pepper when the meat is almost ready 
    and cook until the bananas are soft and yet still hold their shape. Check 
    for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with a sprinkling of the green 

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