This Cebuano dish was inherited from the Spaniards a long time ago. But there are also other versions in other provinces like Cagayan de Oro, Bohol and Davao. Imagine, cooking a dish for almost a day makes you wonder what kind of dish that took so long to cook. The average cooking time for this dish is about seven hours. The name of this dish “balbacua” came from the Spanish word “barbacoa” which means cooking meat very slowly on an open fire for several hours. Maybe our ancestors named it balbacua because of the length of time involved in cooking. Just in case you can’t find ox tail, which is very expensive compared to other parts of the cow, you can also use the combination of ox skin and beef ribs to simulate the ox tail which is mostly skin and bones and some fatty tissues.
To cook the balbacua; Boil ox tail in salt and water for 15 minutes, drain. Boil ox tail again in water with tumeric, anise and onion then simmer for about 2-3 hours, or until semi-tender. Add beef briskets and peanuts then continue boiling over low fire for another 2-3 hours. When tail and briskets are almost tender, add chili peppers, salted black beans, leeks and annato oil. Cook for another 30 minute to 1 hour and season with patis to taste. There is also a quicker version of cooking this dish instead of cooking it for 4 to 5 hours. You can use a pressure cooker first to tenderize the oxtail or the ox feet together with the beef briskets. After an hour of boiling the meat, drain and put on a strainer and set aside. Reserve the broth for later use.
Then make annato oil by combining 1 1/2 Tbsp. cooking oil and 1 Tbsp. annato seeds. Heat in a microwave for a minute. Or you cn just fry it in a frying pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the seeds and set aside. In a por or wok, heat the annato oil and saute garlic, onion and ginger until slightly brown. Add in the beef and ox feet/tail and saute until slightly brown. Pour some broth in the pan just enough to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and add in salted black beans, anise cloves, chili peppers and turmeric powder. Stir then cover and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add in the prok and beans and leeks then cover again and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thick. Season with patis or salt if needed. Serve hot with rice. You can also watch the youtube cooking video below of the quick and easy version of balbacua.
How to Cook Balbacua
- 1 kilo ox tail cut in serving size (or you can use half kilo of ox skin and half kilo of beef ribs)
- 1/2 kilo beef briskets cut in serving size
- 150 grams raw peanuts shelled and peeled or ground peanuts
- 1 small can black salted beans drain and rinse in running water then drain again
- 1 small can pork and beans
- 1 red onion bulbs peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pc fresh tumeric or luyang dilaw , about 3 inches
- 2 stalks baby leeks sliced (optional)
- 3 cloves star anise
- 2 pcs chili peppers
- 1 Tbsp. annato oil
- Patis or fish sauce to taste
How to cook Balbacua:
- Boil ox tail in salt and water for 15 minutes, drain.
- Boil ox tail again in water with tumeric, anise, garlic and onion then simmer for about 2-3 hours, or until semi-tender.
- Add beef briskets and peanuts then continue boiling over low fire for another 2-3 hours.
- When tail and briskets are almost tender, add chili peppers, salted black beans, pork and beans, leeks and annato oil.
- Cook for another 30 minute to 1 hour and season with patis to taste. Serve hot.