(Chicago) – I am familiar with the dish “pochero” (or “puchero”) ever since I was a kid but I never really understood and appreciated the dish that much. It looked just like the ordinary “nilagang baka” only with the addition of banana (saba). However, recently, while I was searching for some good Spanish recipes, I’ve read stuffs about “cocido” which is a Spanish meat soup dish. Some articles mentioned a direct comparison to Filipino “pochero” and it caught my interest. Actually, “pochero” is Pinoy’s adaptation of “cocido”.

The original “pochero” recipe is far much more sophisticated in preparation and complex in flavors than the simple and plain beef “nilaga” (soup) dish that I thought it was. Earlier Pinoy generations even served this dish only on significant occasions or Sunday family gatherings. Well, this got to be a special dish.

And then, I found an exceptional recipe of “pochero” from Amy Besa’s book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. Though it is tedious to make, the resulting dish was stellar; absolutely delicious, hearty and vibrant. Here’s my rendition of Ms. Besa’s recipe.


Eggplant Caviar:

  • 2 huge eggplant ( or 6 medium Chinese eggplant)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  • 5 pounds beef shanks, cut into 3-inch-thick pieces
  • 4 large onions, peeled and halved through the root end
  • 4 pieces chorizo (about 1 pound)
  • Salt, if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ pound string beans, trimmed
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmes, halves lengthwise and quartered crosswise
  • 1 small cabbage, trimmed, outer layers removed and cut into lengthwise into 6 wedges
  • 3 whole ripe saba or plantains, peeled
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

Dipping sauce:

  • ½ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 5 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped for serving


For the eggplant caviar, preheat the broiled. Place the eggplants on a broiler pan and broil 6 inches from the heat source, turning once with tongs, until blackened on all sides, 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplants. Remove the eggplants from the broiler and cool until just cool enough to handle (it’s easier to remove the skin when the eggplants are still steamy). Peel the skin from the eggplants using your hands. Transfer the eggplants to a medium bowl and mash with the garlic. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the pochero, place the beef in a large pot and add water to cover the beef by 3 to 4 inches.  Add 2 of the onions. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, skimming off any foam or fat that rises to the top.  Add the chorizo and continue cooking until the beef is tender and falling off the bone, about 30 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef and chorizo to a bowl and tent with foil to keep warm.  Taste the broth and add water if it’s too strong and salt, if necessary. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and keep warm.

While the beef is cooking, blanch the vegetables. Fill the large pot with water and add the remaining 2 onions and the black peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the string beans to the broth and cook until tender but al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, blanching each type of vegetable separately, and allowing the water to return to a boil each time: Cook the carrots until tender, 3 to 5 minutes; cook the cabbage until softened, about 5 minutes; cook the plantains until softened, about 10 minutes; lastly, blanch the potatoes until softened about 15 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, combine the fish sauce and lime juice in a small serving bowl.

Place the eggplant caviar and chopped tomatoes in separate serving bowls. Arrange the beef, chorizo, string beans, carrots, cabbage, plantains and potatoes on a serving platter and serve. And don’t forget the broth and lots of rice.