Mechado sliced image
Pagkaing Pang-Handaan | Festive Dishes,  Ulam | Main Dishes

Mechado | Larded-Beef Stew Recipe

 Mechado is one of our favorite do-do-do dishes (that include  asado , estofado, and  menudo ). Rich in tomato sauce, they’re called sarciado (from the root word sarsa, meaning sauce) and are perfect for the Sunday family lunch. In Havenhill, however, do-do-do dishes are usually cooked on a weekend, aged for a few days, and served mid-week. By then the flavors have blended and fully developed.

Dry cuts of beef are larded with fat to keep them moist; the cooked meat is more succulent, tender, and flavorful. When sliced for the table, the fat looks like a wick (mechá, mitsá), the fiber core of a candle. Our choice of beef cut for mechado is kalitiran or boneless shoulder. The Tagalog term kalitiran comes from the root word litid, meaning tendons—prized for their gelatinous texture. Kabilugan (beef round) or punta y pecho (beef brisket) may also be used.

My recipe is an amalgam of various recipes but mainly from Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s “The Culinary Culture of the Philppines.” I first cooked mechado for Father’s Day 1985, a month after my son was born. Coming home from the hospital was difficult — I never truly felt at home in Pasig — so that when my husband was away at work, I missed him so much as I struggled with post-partum blues that I never had in my first three deliveries.

It was for that particular Father’s Day, too, that my husband had “A Father’s Prayer” framed.  It was written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Australia, 1942) for his son Arthur. After reading the prayer, I cried for my husband and swore that our son will be the son that will make his father to dare say “I have not lived in vain.”

MacArthur’s prayer gave me back my strength and Fernando’s book kept me entertained, enough to make me venture back into the kitchen with my perfect mechado.

A father’s prayer framed

A Father’s Prayer

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”

Mechado close up image

Mechado | Larded Beef Stew

Dry cuts of beef are larded with fat to keep them moist; the cooked meat is more succulent, tender, and flavorful. When sliced for the table, the fat looks like a wick (mechá, mitsá), the fiber core of a candle. 
Servings 4


  • 2 500 g each slabs kalitiran (beef oyster blade)
  • 500 g pork fatback cut into ¼-inch thick strips
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 to matoes chopped
  • 3 onions chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 225 g can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup grated cheese


  • Make a lengthwise slit at the center of beef. Insert fat strip. Put in a glass bowl. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, salt, tomatoes, and onions in a cup; pour over beef. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Drain beef; reserve marinade.
    Larded beef slabs marinating
  • Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, sear beef one piece at a time; transfer to a plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil in the Dutch oven. Stir-fry garlic for 30 to 45 seconds until golden and fragrant. Stir in the reserved marinade, the bay leaf, soy sauce, and tomato sauce; simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until tomatoes are mushy. Add beef and water to cover; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered for 60 to 90 minutes until beef is fork tender and sauce is thick and oily. Add cheese; stir until melted. Let beef stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Slice beef crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices, revealing the “wick.” Arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle sauce over beef or ladle sauce into a gravy boat and serve on the side. Serve with steamed rice.


* The conventional mechado is log-shaped but plain slab works fine. Select a well-shaped slab of beef — oyster blade is the preferred cut but you may also use boneless chuck or a lean beef such as round or brisket.

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