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Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

Asado | Beef Stew Recipe

Old reliables in our everyday cuisine, the so-called do-do-do dishes, include asado, estofado, mechado, menudo (and adobo, if you want to stretch it that far). The predilection for sarciado — dishes with sauce or sarsa — is a common thread that binds my husband’s clan. Asado was the specialty of his grandmother. It has been a family favorite for five generations — from his grandparents all the way down to his grandchildren themselves.

For almost 40 years until the US bases In Clark Field and Subic Bay shut down in 1991, USAFFE veterans and their widows enjoyed shopping privileges at the base commissary. Despite currency devaluation, their monthly shopping privilege of $50 went a long way. My mother-in-law, a USAFFE widow, looked forward to her monthly trips to the base. A day before, she would cook the family’s “ulam” for the next day. This was usually asado because it tastes better the next day and her whole family loves it. To help tenderize the meat, she put a ceramic saucer in the pot, a practice she learned from her own mother.

Early in the morning of her shopping day, dressed in her Sunday best, with a fresh manicure and pedicure, and newly blackened hair to boot — took the “first trip” by bus. All those years, she traveled alone; my husband drove her to the bus station and returned to pick her up in the afternoon. She would be home, exhausted but delighted and fulfilled, well in time for supper of nicely-aged asado.

No matter how busy he was, my husband made time for this monthly task. It is a testament to his devotion to her, a devotion he extended to me in our 33 years together. It is true what they say: you can gauge the kind of husband a man is/would turn out to be by how he treats his mother.

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Asado | Beef Stew

Servings 4


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 3 to matoes chopped
  • 1 140 g can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. peppercorn
  • 1 kg kenchi cross-cut beef shank, cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup grated cheese


  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large potatoes pared and cut into cubes
  • Garlic salt


  • Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir-fry garlic for 30 to 45 seconds until golden and fragrant. Stir-fry onion for about 1 minute, or until soft. Stir-fry tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes until mushy. Add tomato sauce, soy sauce, oregano, and peppercorn; simmer covered for 2 to 3 minutes to let flavors meld. Add beef; simmer covered for about 5 minutes until beef juices have seeped out.
  • Add water to cover the mixture; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered for 60 to 90 minutes until beef is fork tender. Add grated cheese; stir for about 1 minute until cheese melts.
  • Meanwhile, prepare potatoes: Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Fry potatoes in batches for 5 to 6 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle generously with garlic salt.
  • Place beef in a serving bowl. Garnish with potatoes. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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