Simple Sundays | Mechado Filipino Beef Stew
Comfort in the form of a hearty stew can be found in nearly every country’s cuisine, and the Philippines is no different. Mechado, Filipino beef stew, is the Philippine’s version of the ubiquitous comfort food with a wonderful depth of flavor that comes from browned…
Comfort in the form of a hearty stew can be found in nearly every country’s cuisine, and the Philippines is no different. Mechado, Filipino beef stew, is the Philippine’s version of the ubiquitous comfort food with a wonderful depth of flavor that comes from browned garlic, marinated beef, and the complex flavors of patis, or fish sauce.
When I first started dating my husband, our mutual friend clued me in — he’s a “beef and potatoes man,” she said. I knew in an instant that Mechado would be the first dish I would cook for him. In my little apartment, on that tiny little stove, I made my ultimate stick-to-your-ribs comfort dish. It seemed very appropriate for that early autumn day in the midwest, with familiar flavors, no matter where you were from.
Fourteen years of marriage later, and I think I made the right choice.
When the weather turns, Mechado comes back in rotation, and the other day, I felt it was time. It was the kind of day I wish I could just stay in and do nothing. Doing nothing is hardly ever an option, but a hearty stew helps. Low and slow, braising chunks of beef into fork tender morsels with chunks of potatoes is my idea of fall cooking, don’t you agree?
Mechado Filipino Beef Stew
- 1 1/2 lbs beef for stew
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 cup good dark soy sauce I like Silver Swan, found in Asian markets
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (patis)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- several dashes of Tabasco
- 2-3 cups beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped in 2 inch pieces
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Marinate beef in soy sauce, lemon, and black pepper for at least 30 minutes.
- Brown garlic in oil and set aside.
- Brown beef, working in batches if necessary (reserve the marinade).
- Return beef to pot, add onions and season with fish sauce (patis).
- When the onions are wilted, add tomato sauce and water and stir.
- After about two minutes, add Tabasco, beef stock, 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade, bay leaves and bell pepper.
- Let come to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Add reserved garlic. Cover the pot with the lid, and let it stew for about 1 1/2 hours (see notes), stirring occasionally.
- When the meat is tender, add potatoes and carrots. Continue cooking until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.