August 15, 2008


achuete-based menudo

for me, menudo, more than adobo, is the ultimate pinoy comfort food. ever since my childhood, menudo and adobo has been playing a tug-of-war of sorts as my top pinoy favorite dish. but somehow, menudo came up on top in terms of taste and nutrition (of course, the clincher here are the potatoes and the pork liver). everytime i have menudo, it feels like, ohh, everything is all right with the world.

menudo v.1 the achuete kind

the traditional way of cooking menudo (at least the way my great-grandmother did it) was by using achuete instead of the tomato sauce. this is the carinderia variety. you go about soaking the achuete seeds in a bowl of water while saute-ing your onions and your tomatoes and your crushed garlic. after a couple of minutes of saute-ing, you then mix in your pre-seasoned (with salt and pepper), menudo-cut pork liempo or kasim and let it simmer on its own juices for about 3 to 5 minutes. cover the meat with water or a little more above the meat. turn heat into high and let it boil. once boiling, lower the heat to its lowest setting and let the water simmer. pour in the achuete water (less the seeds, of course!) and continue simmering. at this point, you may wanna mix in a couple of pork cubes into the simmering concoction. adjust taste by adding salt and/or patis or a bit of sugar. let it simmer for another 45 minutes before adding in your pork liver. again, let it simmer for another 5 minutes before adding in your potatoes. simmer, simmer, simmer. then add the green and bell pepper and let it simmer more until potatoes are done and meat is tender.

menudo v.2 the tomato sauce version

having expressed my undying love for meh-noo-doh, if i have to choose between the traditional way of cooking menudo and the tomato sauce-based version of the same dish, i would pretty much prefer the latter way of doing menudo — with tomato sauce! here is one recipe that may remind you of your childhood (at least the way it made me remind mine). you can adjust this dish with the memory of your grandmom’s or mom’s best-tasting menudo by adding or reducing any one of these ingredients: soy sauce, patis, salt, sugar, tomato sauce and tomato paste; but the essential way of doing this dish is by following this recipe. (naks naman, master chef ang dating!) hahaha. so NOt! at least, this is how i remember the way choleng’s menudo taste like (but methinks choleng’s menudo is a lot better). she passed away without telling me her menudo secrets. or any culinary secrets that she may have after 40 years of cooking for us for that matter. so going about this recipe is like starting from scratch.

the ingredients for this dish are:

1/2 kilo pork liempo or kasim (cut into menudo cubes)
30php worth of pork liver
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 medium-sized potatoes diced into 10 to 15cm cubes
2 tomatoes diced
1 medium-sized onion diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 pork cubes
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoon patis
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 medium-sized green bell pepper (cut into a square of 8cms.)
1/2 medium-sized red bell pepper (cut into a square of 8cms.)

follow the procedure from the above achuete-based version but in lieu of achuete water, use tomato paste and tomato sauce as the base. adjust taste if necessary by adding salt or patis. cooking time is from 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. do not overcook the potatoes.

if you have noticed, my menudo lacks the raisins and the carrots you will find in some other menudo variations. i like my menudo without the raisins and the carrots. i can tolerate the carrot in my menudo but pasas? nah. i do eat my raisins but never in mi menudo.

by the way, in my mother’s home, menudo is served with nilagang manok or pinesang lapu-lapu as its partner and rice.


tomato sauce-based menudo



beef mechado

July 26, 2008

mechado was one of my favorite dishes when i was growing up. it was up there together with my all-time favorites – menudo, adobo, morcon and beef caldereta.

my yaya used to cook the best mechado (and so the best menudo, the best adobo, the best morcon and the best beef caldereta, naks!) that the taste of it lingered in my palate over the years. truly unforgettable. as i remember it right, she has four to five variations of mechado (all of it good!). there was one when she used a lot of tomatoes in lieu of tomato paste. another where she used double the dose of tomato paste which makes for a rich tomato-eey stew. variations of mechado also depend on the equipment used. she used to cook mechado using the pressure cooker, or if the pressure cooker was not working over slow fire using a thick pot or simply using the wok. but my favorite of all is the mechado over slow fire.

this recipe, i hope, approximates, if not equal, the recipe that my family and i were so used to when my yaya was still alive.


600 gms. beef kalitiran
1/3 cup pork fat (from kasim)
1/4 cup quickmelt cheese (magnolia or the queso brand)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 medium size onion chopped into tiny pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 beef broth in cubes (optional)


soy sauce
calamansi juice

1 wash meat and slice into cubes or into flat rectangles about an eight of an inch. marinate it overnight in soy sauce and calamansi juice.

2 in a wok, brown meat in oil. set aside. this time using the pot, saute garlic, onions and tomatoes (in oil used for browning the meat) for about a minute or two or until onions are soft and transluscent. blend in the meat and let it simmer in low heat for another couple of minutes while stirring occassionally. then cover the meat with water and turn heat on to high to boil. once boiling, add the beef broth cubes and turn the flame back to low heat and let it simmer for a while.

3 add the 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, the two tablespoons of tomato paste, the cubed pork fats and the bay leaves. stir. cover the pot and let it simmer (on low heat) for an hour. then add the cheese and let it simmer for half an hour more. if need be, add salt to taste.

place the mechado in a large fancy bowl, garnish it with some green leaves and voila! you have a meal!


>> if you bought kalitiran with fat all around it, which by the way is the yummiest, just skim the oil from the pot (after the dish is done, just place your hot dish rag under one side of the pot just to make it tilt so that the oil/grease will be concentrated on one side and thus easier to skim) and store it in your ref for use later with fried rice, beef tapa etc. (transfat galore!). you can also use sirloin beef for this dish.

>>>for best result, use an enameled iron pot or any thick bottomed calderos you can find in your kitchen.