Friday, February 15, 2008

Mechado (Updated with a Postscript)

When one is inspired, one learns a lot of new things. Here is something I lifted from Wikipedia on the Filipino dish called mechado:

Mechado is a stew served as a viand in the Philippines. Traditionally, it is cooked with beef briskets, potatoes, pimiento (red bell peppers), and tomatoes. It is similar to a beef stew, with elements of Filipino ingredients such as patis.

Origin and preparation. The dish originated from a Spanish recipe whose name originally referred to the strips of pork back-fat that are threaded (mecha - wick) through thick pieces of cheaper lean beef to render them more tender and less dry. The larded pieces of beef are then marinated in vinegar, soya sauce, calamansi juice, crushed garlic, black pepper and bay leaf, browned quickly on all sides in hot oil or lard and then slowly braised in its marinade with the addition of soup stock, onion slices and tomatoes until tender and the liquid is reduced to a thick flavorful gravy.

The use of thinner slices or even bony cuts of beef such as short ribs by budget-conscious cooks makes the larding that gave the dish its name unnecessary. The next step that has fallen by the wayside but which is crucial to success (because it takes away so much from the taste and appearance of the classic dish when skipped) is the quick browning of the beef before actual braising. This step not only seals the pieces of meat so that it retains much of its flavor and juice but also helps produce the dark brown color and rich beefy taste of the gravy. The long, slow braising tenderizes the meat and liquifies the slices of onions and tomatoes to blend with and thicken the sauce. The addition of soya-sauce and calamansi juice to the marinating liquid, of course, gives this recipe its distinct Filipino touch and character.

Beef tongue can be similarly treated with little or no variation to produce another dish called Lengua Mechada.

If goat meat is used, it is known as kaldereta.

Postscript: As of press time, the catch to all this has been revealed. More of that in another entry. Men... tsk tsk tsk!

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The Chronicler's Creed

Where there's water and sun, where there are friends to see or new people to meet, where there's something new to learn, experience, or do, where there's life, there I will be.


Y fue a esa edad... Llegó la poesía
a buscarme. No sé, no sé de dónde
salió, de invierno o río.
No sé cómo ni cuándo,
no, no eran voces, no eran
palabras, ni silencio,
pero desde una calle me llamaba,
desde las ramas de la noche,
de pronto entre los otros,
entre fuegos violentos
o regresando solo,
allí estaba sin rostro
y me tocaba.

And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I do not know, I do not know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I do not know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

- An excerpt from LA POESÍA (Poetry) by Pablo Neruda