Beef Papaitan

Beef Papaitan

Beef Papaitan is an Ilocano soup using beef bile. I thought Papaitan was a very difficult dish to cook. Using innards and bile sound too complicated so I didn’t really bother finding out how to cook it before. I wasn’t even interested in eating it… until we moved to Pampanga. Somehow, living in the culinary capital of the Philippines makes you a little bit braver to try every food that’s in front of you. There are lots of restaurants serving Papaitan in Angeles that it’s just hard to ignore. This exotic dish, needless to say, is acquired taste, and acquired, I did.

It’s a long cooking process but it’s not difficult; basically it’s boil, saute, boil. Cleaning the innards is tedious, and boiling it until tender takes at least two hours. You can cut the boiling time to 30 minutes if you use a pressure cooker. I would recommend cooking double and freezing half for later.

There are two ways that this Ilocano dish is served, bitter or bitter and a little bit sour. My Papaitan recipe below is bitter and a little bit sour which I think caters to those who are just beginning to appreciate this dish. Kamias and sampalok are the most preferred souring agent for this dish, but when both fruits are unavailable, you may substitute it with calamansi or sinigang mix.  As for the bitter agent, traditionally they use pait, a juice from the cow or goat’s small intestines or pinespes, a juice from the large intestines. It would be delightful to use traditional ingredients but sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. 

An Alternative to Beef Bile

My Kapampangan friend told me that if beef bile is unavailable or you just can’t wrap your head around using bile in your food, use calamansi peels as an alternative to beef bile. Crush it a little bit more after juicing and add it to the broth, and boil. Discard the calamansi peels as soon as the soup is bitter enough for you. Using calamansi juice results in clearer soup. 

How to Clean Beef Intestines

Slice the intestines and scrape off unwanted fat and scum. Do the same inside out. Scrub with salt and wash with vinegar. Rinse thoroughly with running water.  

I used beef bile and sinigang mix for this recipe. It makes more sense to use calamansi juice as the souring agent when you want to use the calamansi peels as a substitute to beef bile. Using calamansi as your souring agent may result in a clearer broth.

Beef Papaitan

There are two ways that this Ilocano dish is served, bitter or bitter and a little bit sour. My Papaitan recipe below is bitter and a little bit sour.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Filipino
Servings: 6
Author: Cel


  • ¾ kg beef innards
  • ¼ kg beef
  • ¼ cup beef bile
  • 1 head garlic crushed
  • 2 onion sliced
  • 2 thumb sized ginger crushed
  • 2 thumb sized ginger sliced
  • ¼ kg sampalok or 20 g sinigang mix
  • ¼ cup spring onion optional
  • 3 finger chilis
  • Patis
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water


  • Clean innards thoroughly, slice into small pieces. Set liver aside.
  • Slice beef into small pieces.
  • Boil innards in water,½ head garlic, 2 thumb sized crushed ginger and salt for 20 minutes
  • Discard liquid.
  • Return the innards in the pot, add beef, fresh water and boil until tender.
  • Make sure to remove the scum.
  • Once the innard and the beef are tender, separate them from the broth. Set aside broth.
  • Saute onion,½ head garlic, 2 thumb sized sliced ginger, innards and beef
  • Add patis, sili and broth.
  • Add Sampalok or sinigang mix.
  • Crush the sampalok as soons as it softens and then discard the peelings and the seeds.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour beef bile, continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Add Spring onion. Serve hot with siling labuyo and fresh calamansi on the side.

Ready for another classic Filipino recipe? Try this Easy Kare Kare Recipe.