What Is Mechado?

K.C. Bruning

Mechado is a beef dish that is often served with rice. Traditional recipes consisted of larded strips of beef in sauce, while modern versions tend to be more like a stew. The sauce typically consists of tomatoes, soy sauce, and calamansi, which is a small citrus fruit with a sour flavor. It can be prepared with a wide array of spices and cuts of meat. Mechado is most popular in the Philippines, and it is similar to several other beef dishes from the region, such as kalderata, adobo, and kare-kare.

Made with beef tongue, mechado lengua is frequently served with fried bacon.
Made with beef tongue, mechado lengua is frequently served with fried bacon.

Early versions of mechado used back fat to add moisture, flavor, and tenderness to inexpensive, lean cuts of meat. This was accomplished by weaving the two ingredients together so that they became one. The meat was then browned and simmered in sauce and spices.

Onions and garlic are often used to season machado.
Onions and garlic are often used to season machado.

Most modern versions of the recipe are more like a simple beef stew. While the traditional method is to slow cook mechado, many cooks now speed the process by using a pressure cooker to prepare the dish. The dish is now rarely prepared with lard.

A typical mechado dish consists of a base of beef, potato, and tomato sauce. It is usually seasoned with onion, garlic, soy sauce, bay leaves, and vinegar. The onion and garlic are first sautéed in oil, and then the beef is added and cooked until it is lightly browned.

Then water and tomato sauce are added until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, after which the meat is allowed to simmer. When it is tender, the other ingredients are added and the mixture is left to simmer again until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. The final step is to add the potatoes and cook them in the mixture until they are soft.

Mechado lengua is another version of the dish made with beef tongue. It is also made with a tomato sauce and a similar mix of spices. This dish is frequently served with fried bacon.

Kalderata, adobo , and kare-kare are traditional Philippine dishes with similar sauces, spices, and preparation methods to mechado. The primary difference with kalderata is that it is usually made with goat shoulders and liver spread, but it is otherwise a similar kind of stew. Adobo is a method of preparing meat that includes a tomato, vinegar, and garlic sauce similar to that made for mechado, though it is not necessarily used to prepare a stew. Kare-kare has a dramatically different sauce, which consists primarily of peanuts, vegetables, and beef, but as a stew it has a similar consistency and is prepared in a similar manner.

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