Beef Mechado

Mechado…..mmmmm. Mechado masarap (too delicious!) is probably what you would hear a Filipino jokingly say when he tastes a really good Mechado dish. The expression is a play on the word “masyado” which means too much or over the top while “masarap” means, as you may have guessed, “delicious.”

The name Mechado originated from the Spanish word “mecha” which means wick. Traditionally, a lean cut of beef is larded by inserting bits of pork fat in it to add moisture, flavor and succulence to an otherwise dry piece of meat (like an artificial marbling). The pork fat sticking out looks like a wick
(the “mecha”) coming out of the beef  (the “candle”) hence the name – Mechado. The larded meat is then simmered slowly in seasoned tomato sauce and served with the sauce it was cooked in. You can google “larding meat/beef” if you wish to know more about this old culinary technique. I read they did this in the Philippines during the Spanish colonization and perhaps thereafter because a good marbled beef was quite expensive in those days so they had to devise a way to use cheaper cuts of beef and turn it into something tender and yummy.

Thankfully, we no longer have to apply that kind of technique as some fattier kind of beef is now accessible and cheap(er). Things seem to be in reverse now, in fact, as leaner beef seems to be more expensive. Anyway, whenever I make a stew I always get the cut with a little fat (like the chuck roast) because they are perfect with long slow cooking and the meat doesn’t dry out because the little fat in there provides the moisture and yes, loads of flavor, too.

The Mechado was well-loved and well-received by my family especially my husband and my kids didn’t complain and ate a lot, too. I was hoping we would have left-overs for the next day – but it must have been so good that it was all gone in one sitting. Please enjoy and hope you love this as much as we do!

Beef Mechado

By: Manila Spoon

June 12, 2015

Deliciously tender chunks of beef slowly simmered in tomato sauce flavored with Asian seasonings. Your taste buds are treated to a savory, tangy and sweet explosion of flavors!


  • 2.2 lbs / 1 kilo stewing Beef with some fat on it (like Chuck roast) cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 pieces of dried Laurel/Bay leaves
  • 4 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar (or Calamansi/Lemon juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce
  • 2 cups Water
  • 8-10 Baby potatoes (may be halved depending on size)
  • 3 Medium carrots, peeled and chopped (roughly the size of baby potatoes)
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 large red Bell Pepper, chopped (same length as potatoes or carrots)
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce or to taste
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown sugar or to taste


  1. In a deep pan place the beef chunks, tomatoes, vinegar, fish sauce or soy sauce, garlic and laurel leaves. Pour the water in. Bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and then simmer on low and cook until the beef chunks are tender about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  3. When the beef is tender add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are almost cooked.
  4. Add the chopped bell peppers and the tomato sauce. Stir, cover and cook until all the vegetables are tender. You can cook it uncovered during the last few minutes if you wish for a thicker sauce. Adjust the seasoning by adding brown sugar (to balance out the flavors) and, if needed, extra salt, soy or fish sauce and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve with Jasmine rice and with a drizzle of that delicious sauce on top! Masarap!

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 1 Hour and 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour and 45 Minutes

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  1. June 12, 2015 / 4:14 pm

    Gorgeous looking casserole and I'm intrigued at the fish sauce in there but bet it gives it a lovely depth of flavour:-)

  2. June 12, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    Is there anything more comforting than a hearty beef dish? This personifies this completely and has me drooling while eating my breakfast.

    • June 13, 2015 / 4:39 pm

      I fully agree with you – a hearty beef stew is the best!

  3. June 12, 2015 / 4:36 pm

    This looks amazing and I would love a bowl now with this cooler day we are having.

  4. June 12, 2015 / 4:41 pm

    What a fabulous recipe idea, I don't think I have ever had Beef Mechado however after seeing how wonderfully comforting it looks I think I'm going to try this one out ASAP!

    • June 13, 2015 / 4:40 pm

      Hope you like it when you get to try it Heidy.

    • June 13, 2015 / 4:41 pm

      Thanks Nettie and hope he does when you get to make it.

  5. June 12, 2015 / 8:11 pm

    It's Winter here in SA and this Beef Mechado looks like the perfect comfort dinner 🙂

    • June 13, 2015 / 4:41 pm

      Oh yes Linda! Snuggle with a warm blanket while eating this would be wonderful! Thanks and stay warm!

  6. June 13, 2015 / 7:58 am

    This looks delicious and definitely one to go on my list! YUMMY!

  7. June 13, 2015 / 8:54 am

    This is my sort of hearty stew! I can see why it became an instant favourite! Gorgeous!

  8. June 13, 2015 / 10:57 am

    Gorgeous mechado. And now I want some. Looks so flavorful and delicious!

  9. June 13, 2015 / 11:18 am

    What a fantastic sounding beef dish! A must try 🙂

  10. June 13, 2015 / 11:21 am

    Warm weather hasn't arrived yet where I am so this looks fantastic right about now! YUM!

  11. June 13, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    It's going to be warm here in Fresno, CA, but I just can't think of a more delicious lunch, looks fabulous!

  12. June 13, 2015 / 7:12 pm

    The colors are amazing! This is one fine stew!

  13. June 13, 2015 / 11:28 pm

    Even though it is an oven right now, i could go some- It looks SO rich and tasty!

  14. June 14, 2015 / 1:46 am

    What a fabulous beef stew! The depth of flavor must be incredible with all the terrific ingredients!

  15. June 14, 2015 / 8:07 am

    What mouth watering photos Abby! This dish looks very warm and welcoming and delicious!

  16. June 14, 2015 / 5:34 pm

    This dish looks delish…pinning so I can remember to try it later.

  17. June 15, 2015 / 2:00 am

    I LOVE this dish. My mom lived in the Philippines growing up and used to make it. What a great surprise to see it pop up here.

  18. June 15, 2015 / 2:06 am

    This dish looks so fantastic, I don't even mind that we have 90 degree weather recently! Beef stews are one of my favorite comforting dishes! Also, your photos are awesome!!

  19. June 15, 2015 / 8:16 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I love stews and this one is a must try!

  20. July 3, 2015 / 6:45 pm

    This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. What type of vinegar do you use? Can you be more specific please? Thanks!

    • July 4, 2015 / 3:20 am

      I used a Filipino cane vinegar but you can use rice vinegar if you like – it doesn't really matter as it's only 1/4 cup. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for asking.

  21. February 19, 2016 / 12:27 am

    this is a life saver! now i have a dish to present at our class thank you!

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