Balbacua Bliss: Rich Beef Soup

Balbacua Bliss: Rich Beef Soup

Today, we’re diving into the culinary delights of Cebu with a traditional dish that’s close to my heart – Balbacua. As it sizzles away, the anticipation builds for that tender, collagen-rich broth that defines this dish. The secret to its depth of flavor? A thorough wash before cooking and a blend of aromatic ginger, onions, black pepper, salt, and the crucial siot spice mix – not to be confused with ‘siu’, but rather a Chinese herb that infuses the soup with its distinctive aroma.

As our beef trotters simmer towards perfection, we prepare additional aromatics to layer in more flavors. After 45 minutes, we’ll assess the tenderness of the beef and proceed with the next steps. The scent of ginger and siot fills the air, signaling we’re on the right track.

Thanks to Island Gas for their support in this culinary journey! Now, let’s sauté our aromatics to enrich our Balbacua further. This Visayan staple pairs wonderfully with ‘mais’ or ground corn, and today, we’re using a wok to bring out its vibrant hues with a mix of vegetable and anatto oil.

My uses Integrdiants for this yummy Balbacua

Garlic, onions, and bell peppers join the mix, enhancing the nutritious value of this collagen-packed soup. For a hint of heat, I’m adding bird’s eye chili – handle with care! Then, we’ll gently transfer our jiggly, tender beef into the wok.

The Balbacua is taking shape but needs more depth. Black beans and liver spread (a family secret!) contribute umami and richness, while tomato sauce adds a tangy twist. This dish is a cultural mosaic – Chinese herbs meet a name reminiscent of Mexican Balbacua , possibly a nod to historical culinary exchanges.

We let it simmer and adjust seasonings as needed. If you lack siot or star anise at home, ginger is an excellent substitute that also boosts your vocal cords – perfect for a night of singing! A final touch of black pepper seals the deal for this soul-warming Balbacua.

Remember to taste as you go – balance is key. And there you have it: a dish steeped in history and bursting with flavor, ready to be savored.

Balbacua Recipe

Balbacua Recipe

Dive into the heart of Cebu’s culinary tradition with this authentic Balbacua recipe! Discover how to create a lusciously rich and collagen-packed beef soup that’s both comforting and nutritious. With detailed instructions, tips, and nutritional information, you’ll master this beloved Visayan dish in no time. Perfect for family dinners or a cozy night in, Balbacua promises a taste of Filipino heritage with every spoonful
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 6
Calories 350 kcal


  • Beef trotters
  • Ginger sliced
  • Onions chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Siot spice mix or star anise as a substitute
  • Vegetable oil
  • Annatto oil
  • Garlic minced
  • Bell peppers sliced
  • Bird’s eye chili optional
  • Black beans
  • Liver spread optional
  • Tomato sauce
  • Bullion cubes beef flavor
  • Finger chilies optional
  • Ground corn or rice for serving
  • Remember to adjust the quantities according to the number of servings you plan to prepare.


  • Begin by thoroughly washing the beef trotters to ensure a clean start to your dish.
  • In a large pot, add the beef trotters along with sliced ginger, chopped onions, black pepper, and salt. Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients.
  • Introduce the siot spice mix to the pot, bringing a unique aroma to your Balbacua.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or until the beef trotters are almost tender.
  • While the beef is cooking, prepare your wok by heating a combination of vegetable oil and annatto oil over medium heat.
  • Sauté garlic, onions, and bell peppers in the wok until they’re fragrant and slightly softened.
  • If you’re using bird’s eye chili, carefully add it to the aromatics, taking care not to touch your eyes afterward.
  • Once the beef trotters are tender, transfer them from the pot to the wok with the sautéed aromatics.
  • Add black beans to the mix for added texture and flavor.
  • Pour in the broth from the beef trotters pot, straining out any unwanted bits.
  • Enhance the soup with liver spread (if using) and tomato sauce for richness and a hint of tanginess.
  • Allow the Balbacua to simmer gently, letting all the flavors meld together beautifully.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding bullion cubes for umami and saltiness if required.
  • For an extra kick of flavor and health benefits, add more sliced ginger according to your preference.
  • Finish off with a sprinkle of black pepper and finger chilies (if using) for a final layer of spice.
  • Serve hot with ground corn or rice on the side for a complete and hearty meal that celebrates Cebu’s culinary heritage.


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Tips for Perfecting Your Balbacua:
  • Prep Ahead: To save time, prepare your aromatics in advance. You can chop the onions, slice the ginger, and mince the garlic ahead of time.
  • Tender Trotters: The key to a great Balbacua is the tenderness of the beef trotters. Don’t rush this step; let them simmer until they’re fall-apart tender.
  • Layer Flavors: Build depth in your dish by adding ingredients in stages. This allows each component to contribute its unique flavor profile.
  • Adjust Heat: If you’re sensitive to spice, start with less chili and add more to taste. It’s easier to add heat than to take it away.
  • Balance the Broth: Continuously taste your broth as it simmers. Adjusting the seasoning as you go ensures a well-balanced soup.
  • Serve Appropriately: Balbacua is traditionally served with ground corn or rice. Choose whichever complements your taste preferences and completes the meal.
  • Storage: Balbacua can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove before serving.
Enjoy your cooking journey and the delicious Balbacua you’ll create!
Keyword Balbacua Recipe, Balbacua, Cebu cuisine, Filipino soup, beef trotters recipe, collagen-rich food, traditional Visayan dish, aromatic spices, siot spice mix, anatto oil cooking, Island Gas

FAQs for Balbacua Recipe

Q: What is Balbacua?

A: Balbacua is a traditional Filipino soup known for its rich, collagen-filled broth, made primarily with beef trotters and a blend of aromatic spices.

Q: How long does it take to cook Balbacua?

A: The total cooking time is around 2 hours, which includes preparation and simmering until the beef trotters become tender.

Q: Can I make Balbacua without siot spice mix?

A: Yes, if siot spice mix is not available, you can substitute it with star anise or additional ginger for a similar aromatic profile.

Q: Is Balbacua spicy?

A: The spice level can be adjusted to your preference. Bird’s eye chili adds heat, but it’s optional, and you can use less or omit it entirely.

Q: What can I serve with Balbacua?

A: Traditionally, Balbacua is served with ground corn or rice. Choose whichever you prefer or have available.

Q: How do I store leftover Balbacua?

A: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove before serving.

Q: Can I freeze Balbacua?

A: Yes, Balbacua can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat thoroughly before serving.

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