Filipino Beef Mechado Recipe
Beef Mechado, also called Mechadong Baka, is one of the popular tomato sauce-based dish in the tradition of Philippine cuisine. Other Filipino tomato sauce-based dishes are Menudo, Afritada, Caldereta and Pochero. Aside from their differences in the manners of cooking and ingredients, by general comparison: Afritada, by tradition, is a 'chicken' stewed in tomato sauce; Caldereta, originally, is a 'goat' stew in tomato sauce; Menudo is 'pork' stewed in tomato sauce; and Pochero is a stewed 'beef' in tomato sauce with variety of ingredients including banana, string beans, and leafy vegetables.
Mechado, originated from the Spanish word "mecha" meaning wick, is a beef stew in tomato sauce with strips of pork's back-fat threaded in the beef's meat. To better understand Mechado is to immediately visualize a candle in your mind. The thread, a thin long strand of fiber, in the middle of the candle is the "mecha" or "wick" which represent the strips of pork's fat and the wax of the candle represents the lean meat of the beef.
Though the name "Mechado" is a Spanish word, the dish was invented in the Philippines by the Filipinos during the Spanish colonial time. By influence, it is Spanish, Chinese, and indigenous because Beef Mechado uses tomato sauce that was introduced by Spain when they colonized the Philippines, soy sauce that was introduced by the Chinese during the pre-Spanish colonial period, and indigenous because the dish was developed using the culinary ingenuity of the Filipinos.
One of the challenges in cooking beef is to make it tender and moist because beef is a bit tough to chew. In this Beef Mechado dish, you can see the ingenuity and culinary genius of the Filipinos. As a remedy in solving the problem of toughness of beef, a strips of pork's back-fat is inserted inside the beef's meat. This is done by making a cut or incision in the beef's meat so that the strips of pork's fat can be inserted. The beef's meat with the pork's fat inserted to it, when stewed, will make it more tender and moist.
Over the years, a lot of changes happened to this wonderful Filipino dish. Instead of inserting a strip of pork fat in the beef's meat, lots of folks just buy a cut of lean beef with fat still in it for their Beef Mechado dish. With the invention of pressure cooker, the easiest way to tenderize the beef is to pressurize it.
Nevertheless, Filipino Beef Mechado, when prepared with the tenderness and adequate moisture of the beef, will give you and your family a flavorful and savory feast.
Beef Mechado Ingredients:
2 lbs beef; cut in chunks
1/4 lbs pork fat; cut into strips
1 potato; quartered (fry in 3 minutes)
1 carrot; cut in 1 inch chunks (fry in 3 minutes)
1 bell pepper; sliced
1 onion; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 bay (laurel) leaves
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup vinegar
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper
Beef Mechado Cooking Preparation:
Make a cut of the beef chunks deep enough to insert the strips of pork's fat.
In a bowl, marinate beef chunks in soy sauce, vinegar, and ground black pepper for 30 minutes.
Sauté garlic and onion in a saucepan. Add the marinated beef and stir-fry until all broth coming out from the meat evaporates. Sear the beef until it starts to render oil to give extra flavor to your dish. Add water, stew the beef until tender.
Cook until little broth is left, then add the tomato sauce. Simmer, then add the potato, carrot, and bay leaves. Lastly, add the bell pepper. Simmer for few minutes more before serving. Serve hot!
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