Nilagang Baboy is a Filipino-style boiled soup made of fork-tender pork belly, kalabasa, and pechay. It’s delicious, filling, and perfect for cold weather.
I learned this nilagang baboy recipe from one of my friends at my old job. He offered me a bowlful one lunch time at the break room and I couldn’t refuse the sight of a piping hot broth with chunks of meat and veggies.
Nilaga in itself is nothing new ; it’s a staple Filipino dish that’s mostly served for everyday meals. His take on this classic boiled soup, however, was interesting. I always make nilaga with beef and have never really tried pork. His version also uses kalabasa and pechay instead of the usual potatoes and cabbage.
It’s a curious combination that actually works! The kalabasa adds a hint of sweetness to the broth which works well with the savory flavors of the dish.
- Pork– for the best flavor, use pork belly with ribs. For a leaner cut, substitute pork shoulder or spare ribs.
- Vegetables– the recipe calls for pechay, but you can also use cabbage. It’s also common to add scallions or leeks and green beans.
- Kalabasa– you can substitute potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can also use carrots or saba bananas for a touch of sweetness.
- Fish sauce– adds saltiness and umami flavor
- Peppercorns– enhances the flavor of the meat and vegetables, and brings a spicy bite to the soup
- Salt– season to taste
How to make a clear broth
- To ensure a clear, sediment-free broth, make sure to tend the pot during the first few minutes of boiling and skim off any scum that floats on top.
- Or, you can take the extra step of blanching the meat. In a large pot, combine pork and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil until scum rises to the top. Drain the meat and rinse well. Return to the pot with fresh water and proceed with the recipe.
How to serve and store
- This pork nilaga is delicious on its own or as a main dish with steamed rice. Serve with spiced fish sauce on the side for dipping.
- Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepot until completely warmed through.
- 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 2 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 cups water
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, cracked
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 small calabasa, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 bunches pechay, ends trimmed and leaves separated
- salt to taste
- In a pot over medium heat, combine pork and water. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top.
- When the liquid has cleared, add onions, peppercorns, and fish sauce. Continue to boil for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Lower heat, cover and cook for about 40 to 45 minutes or until pork is tender. Add more water in 1/2 cup increments as needed to maintain about 6 to 7 cups.
- Add calabasa and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until tender yet firm.
- Add napa cabbage or pechay and cook for about 1 minute or until tender yet crisp.
- Season with salt to taste. Serve hot.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”