Mechandong Baka (Beef Mechado) is a tangy Filipino beef tomato stew with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Traditionally, the stew was made using cheap and lean cuts of meat that had very little fat/marbling. To help add flavor, an incision was made into each piece of meat and a strip of pork fat was inserted, as described at Kawaling Pinoy. This technique is what gave the stew its name- Mecha meaning wick for the strip of pork fat sticking out of the beef like a candle. I served the Mechado over a bed of steamed white rice, but Chad also likes it with Pandesal (Filipino Rolls).
While looking through recipes, I found varying amounts of soy sauce. Start with two tablespoons and bump up to 4 tablespoons based on taste.
I added a combination of onions, carrots, and potatoes to the stew. Chopped bell peppers are also popular.
The recipe is easily doubled to serve more people or make enough for leftovers. As with many stews, the flavor is even better the next day.
Calamansi (Kalamansi, Calamondin Orange, Golden Lime, Chinese Orange) is a type of citrus native to Southeast Asia. It is a cross between the Mandarin Orange and Kumquat. The fruit has an orange sour flesh and a thin, sweet rind that starts green, but turns orange as it ripens. The rind is often eaten with the flesh to produce a sweet sour flavor. It is commonly found in Filipino cooking, from garnishes to condiments. The fruit can be found in the produce department or the juice frozen in some markets featuring Filipino ingredients. If you are unable to locate it, substitute with lemon (I have seen mixtures calling for 1 part orange juice to 3 parts lemon juice), lime, or Meyer lemon.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound stew beef (chuck, round), cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Steamed rice for serving
In a large pot, drizzle the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
Add the water, tomato sauce, calamansi juice, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
Add the potato and carrot. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with steamed rice.