Nilaga: Stay warm with this filipino broth

Filipino food is the new thing. Haven’t you heard?

This is a super. SUPER simple soup you can make anytime you need a quick meal. The great part: you can make some of it in advance.

It was snowing in Nashville when I made this. 7 inches and counting, so I decided to take out the new Instant Pot for a spin. I had some pork ribs I was saving for some kind of broth, so what better day than to try out some recipes.

Typically this broth, called nilaga {ni-la-ga} is made with potatoes, green beans, leafy greens, and pork or beef. Since I’ve been cutting out some of the more starchy foods, I’m nixing the potatoes and making some substitutions. Steamed sweet potatoes would be a great sub, here. For other veggies, I used bok choy and radishes. You could use whatever you want, really.

Pile the veggies on!

Your choice of radishes.

Your choice of radishes.

Bok choy

Bok choy

Now for the part you can do in advance:

I cut up a rack of pork ribs and put it in the Instant Pot and put about 3 cups of water–just enough to cover the top of the ribs.


I set mine for about an hour and 15 minutes. Don’t forget to let the ribs to rest in the pot for about 15 minutes before letting out the steam.

{If you don’t have an instant pot, no worries–cooking it over a stovetop for 2-3 hours, or in a crockpot for 3-4 works just as great.}

Once the meat is cooked nice and tender you’re more than halfway done!

If you’re ready to eat, you just need about 15 more minutes. If you won’t be serving it until later, give yourself 15 minutes prep, and refrigerate the broth and pork ribs until you’re ready to use it.


1 rack of pork ribs. You can also use beef ox tail. The knuckly, boney cuts are great and add tons of flavor.

2 tablespoons fish sauce with a little more to taste. I like Red Boat because it only has 2 ingredients: anchovies and sea salt.

Choice of veggies. I like bok choy, kale, daikon {Japanese radish}, sweet potato, green beans, snap peas. If you’re doing Paleo or Whole30, just sub the veggies for what’s permissible

Putting it together

  1. Strain your broth to remove all the bits that came apart while the meat was cooking. Since it was just my husband and I eating, I only used half the ribs/broth for this meal, and will use the other half for adobo later.
  2. Pour the strained broth {don’t add the meat yet} in a pot, leaving enough room for the veggies that you’ll be adding. Season with fish sauce.
  3. Bring the seasoned broth to a rolling boil and add your veggies. The ones that will take longer to cook, add first. I like the veggies a little more firm, knowing they will soften up the longer they sit in the broth. If you’re adding sweet potatoes, yams or white potatoes, you could cook them separately and add them at this point–it keeps the broth clear. If you’re not picky about that, just dump it in and cook in the broth, adding the greens in the last 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove broth from heat and assemble your bowl to serve: meat first, then ladle the broth in, topping it off with your veggies.

I like to keep a little fish sauce at the table in case people want to add more to their serving. Enjoy!

Sophia AgtarapComment