A recipe for Mechadong Baka (Filipino Beef Mechado). This tomato-based stew is filled with pieces of tender beef and vegetables.
I first featured Mechadong Baka (Beef Mechado) back in 2016 and it continues to be a favorite for our family, especially during the cooler winter months. This tangy Filipino beef tomato stew is packed with vegetables and tender beef pieces for quite the comforting meal.
Traditionally, the stew was made using lean cuts of meat that had very little fat/marbling. To help add flavor, a strip of pork fat was inserted into each piece of meat.
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.
You can serve the Mechado warm from the stove along with steamed white rice. Like many stews, leftovers are even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to settle.
Calamansi (Kalamansi, Calamondin Orange) is a type of citrus native to Southeast Asia. The fruit has an orange sour flesh and a thin, sweet rind that starts green, but turns orange as it ripens.
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 them, substitute with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
For those in the Los Angeles area, I have been able to find fresh calamansi at Seafood City Supermarket in Carson and Cerritos.
For those in the DC area, I have been able to find frozen calamansi juice in the freezer section of Lotte Plaza Market in Chantilly.
A Few Tips
If avoiding pork or you simply don’t want to add a strip of pork fat in the center of each beef cube, omit and use a marbled cut of beef. I usually go with a well-marbled chuck roast.
If using the pork fat, it may help to freeze the strips for a few minutes to make them easier to press through the center.
Brown the beef in batches if your pot is not as wide. Take care to not overcrowd.
Don’t discard the marinade when you add the beef to the pot. Pour it in along with the water and tomato sauce.
While I did include the marinating step, I do sometimes skip this. If you are short on time, simply brown the beef cubes and add the soy sauce and calamansi juice with the water and tomato sauce.
Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. The exact amount will depend on the salt content of your tomato sauce.
If the Mechado is too thin with too much liquid, remove the lid and simmer until reduced towards the end of cooking. If too thick and the vegetables/beef are not yet tender, add a little more water.
The recipe is easily doubled to serve more people or make enough for leftovers. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
Looking for more Filipino recipes?
This recipe was originally posted in November 2016 and updated in November 2023.
Mechadong Baka (Filipino Beef Mechado) Recipe
Mechadong Baka (Filipino Beef Mechado)
- 1 1/2 pound (680 grams) beef chuck roast cut into 2 inch (5 centimeter) pieces
- 1/4 pound (113 grams) pork fat optional, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons (44 milliliters) calamansi or lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) water
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 centimeter) pieces
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 centimeter) pieces
- 1 red bell pepper stem and seeds removed, cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 centimeter) pieces
- 1 green bell pepper stem and seeds removed, cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 centimeter) pieces
- Steamed rice for serving
- If using, cut a small hole in the center of each piece of beef and add a strip of pork fat.
- Place the prepared beef in a large bowl and add the soy sauce, calamansi juice, and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
- 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.
- Remove the beef from the marinade (reserve the liquid) and add to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
- Add the water, tomato sauce, reserved marinade, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. 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, until the beef is tender.
- Add the potato, carrot, and bell pepper pieces. Continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.