Lasang Pinoy 14 (A la Espanyola): My father’s sarciado sarciadong baka (beef stew)My father was a wonderful cook. He was more than a cook–he was a true blue foodie. What was so great about his cooking was that he not only knew how to combine ingredients, he was also very particular about the cut and quality of meat. I would never have known about the cut called “batok” if it weren’t for him. For those who don’t speak Filipino, “batok” means the back of the neck. I don’t know what the proper name for that beef cut would be in English but, in the Philippines, we call it “batok”. It is meat marbled with fat. That is why, when cooked, beef “batok” is very tender and very juicy.

About my father’s sarciado… of course, I had enjoyed this dish countless of times when I was growing up. But the day my husband ate my father’s sarciado, it became his standard for sarciado. I had just given birth to our firstborn, Sam, and on a visit, my father cooked his sarciado and a clam soup with malunggay. My husband couldn’t stop talking about the sarciado for days. And he reminisces about it still. I hope I did justice to my father’s recipe. hehehe

“Sarciado” means “with sauce”. In Philippine cuisine, it is the generic term, often used interchangeably with afritada and mechado–all legacies from the Spanish colonization of the country–used to describe meat stewed in tomatoes. Actually, I do not really know how sarciado is different from afritada. But while mechado has the same basic sauce, mechado really refers to the preparation of the meat rather than the stewing. Mechado is cooked with rolled beef with a strip of fat at the center so that the fat looks like a mitsa or the wick of a candle. Of course, I’m no historian of Filipino cuisine. But that was what I had been told growing up.

Anyway, below is a photo of cooked mechado. The rolled beef is cooked whole then sliced before serving. If you slice the beef before cooking, the fat will fall off and ruin the presentation. mechado, a Filipino beef stewAnyway, back to my father’s sarciado. For best results, use beef “batok”. Of course, if you’re watching your fat intake, that would be impossible. Too bad. :twisted: Kidding. Thing is, you can substitute any cut of stewing beef that you prefer but, really, my father’s sarciado was that good because he used the perfect cut for the dish. Batok ng baka.

When you buy “batok”, ask the butcher to cut the beef a la pork chops. That means half-inch thick slices. Now, a good butcher will cut the meat across the grain. And that is crucial. If you’re suspicious about the abilities of the butcher, just buy the “batok” and slice it at home. Chill it until firm to make slicing easier. beef stewed in tomatoesWhat does cutting “across the grain” mean? Look at the meat closely and see which direction the fibers go. Cut perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, not parallel to them. Now, the recipe.

Ingredients :

1 kilo of beef “batok” or whatever your less fatty choice, cut across the grain in half-inch slices
1 whole garlic
2 large white onions
1 kilo of fresh plump tomatoes (if unavailable, substitute canned whole tomatoes)
2 tbsps. of tomato paste
1 bay leaf
cracked black pepper
5 tbsps. of cooking oil
1 can of garbanzos (chick peas)
1 can of green peas
half a kilo of potatoes

Cooking procedure :

Peel and crush the garlic. Peel and slice the onions thinly. Dice the tomatoes.

Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Over high heat, pan fry the beef slices in batches, flipping them over to brown both sides.

Transfer the browned beef to a thick-bottomed cooking pot. Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, bay leaf and about two cups of water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for two to three hours (depends on the quality of the beef) or until tender. The sauce will thicken as the beef cooks so stir occasionally to prevent scorching at the bottom of the cooking pot.

When the beef is almost done, peel the potatoes and cut into wedges. Fry in the cooking oil just until the edges are lightly browned. About 20 minutes before the beef is done, add the potatoes, peas and garbanzos. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

That’s it. Nothing really complicated. In fact, you practically just throw everything into the pot. Just remember that there are three secrets to this dish: 1) good quality of the meat; 2) correct way of cutting the meat; and 3) slow cooking.

Enjoy! :)

UPDATE on October 14, 2006

I didn’t know that A la Espanyola is this month’s or, rather, last month’s, theme for Lasang Pinoy until Purplegirl posted a comment in this thread. I’m delinquent with my mail-reading again. Plus, there was a typhoon and, just a couple of weeks before that, I lost my DSL connection for a week.

Anyway, late is still late. But late is better than no entry. :razz: Thanks for hosting this round, Purplegirl. :)

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  1. Mik says

    Hi, Sass!

    Mechado at home (Bacolod) is cooked that way as well. It was only when I got older and lived in Manila that I was introduced to the other mechado.

    Nagutom tuloy ako haha. I was planning a chinese dinner tomorrow, but I might get some beef na lang :)

  2. Mimi from OC, CA says

    This looks delicious… I can’t wait to make it!

    If I’m not mistaken, I think the American version of the ‘batok’ would beef neck bones. I’ve used it for nilaga and bulalo, and the pork neck bones, for sinigang.

    I just love your blog… I’m a huge fan! Thanks for sharing your awesome recipes!

  3. aggie says

    Hi Connie,

    What a hearty dish you have there! My nanay makes great sarciado, mechado and afritada. However, her sarciado is always just fish (hasa-hasa or ginto-ginto) in a sauce of stewed diced tomatoes. For mechado, she always uses cubes of stewing beef. Her afritada is always just chicken and she makes two kinds- one that’s tomato-sauce based and a second (my favorite!) which has a thick bread crumb sauce and strips of red bell peppers.
    I think a comparable cut of meat to “batok” that can be used in your sarciado recipe is pork neck bones which have fat marbled in with the meat.
    By the way, I have to agree with you that the food at Luyong (biased ako kasi my cousin and her husband’s family own it, hehe) and the baked oysters at Chateau Verde are fantastic!

  4. Rose says

    You seem to use a lot of garlic in your cooking – is this a characteristic of Filipino cooking or personal preference? I like garlic, but your recipes use about twice as much garlic as I thought you would :) I’d definitely try this out – sounds like a really satisfying hearty meal.

  5. weng says

    ayy grabee mukang masarap ito, will try to cook it… mukang ok din po siguro if i subtitute it w/ fish say maya maya?

    sarap will definitely try this!

  6. LES says


  7. Shirley says

    Oh how yummy this sounds right now, Sas! It’s 10:09 PM as I comment and have not had dinner as I got home earlier this evening from a long 8 hour drive from visiting my mom in SF and my daughter in Sacramento, CA.
    I’ll have to wait until I get my energy back to do some cooking. But, oh yes, I love sarciado and all that sauted, tomatoey, saucy sauce. Same goes for mechado but to me, mechado is a bit more tangy but also tasty.

  8. says

    Mmmmm, that looks fantastic. I feel like having some, except I’m a recent vegetarian. But if I was returning to my old carnivore self, I’d definitely try that.

  9. says

    Mimi, “neck bones” here are used for making soup. What we call “batok” is actually boneless. Wish I knew the equivalent term.

    Aggie, oh, I know the fish sarciado. My father’s fish sarciado has some kind of salty beans. Re Luyong. Praises for its food can’t be biased hehehe And Chateau Verde was just wonderful.

    Rose, yep, I love garlic. As to whether I use more… well, I don’t know that there is a “standard” amount of garlic used in cooking. Everything about cooking is a personal preference. It might also be relevant to mention that I use Taiwan garlic, not the smaller and more potent Ilocos garlic which are really a pain to peel hehehe

    Les, of course you can use chicken! :) Cooking time will be shorter though so you might want to roughly chop the tomatoes rather than dice them. :) As to other recipes of my father… actually, he was basically carnivorous hehehe but I’ll try to recall his seafood dishes.

    Noemi, when you do, forget the diet muna hehehe

    Shirley, I think that meat or chicken with the thick tomato sauce, especially when made with fresh tomatoes, well… it’s really comfort food. :)

  10. Rose says

    I agree that all of cooking is personal preference. It’s just that I hardly see anyone use one whole head of garlic in recipes, it’s usually 4 cloves at most… though I guess the quality of the garlic helps to determine how much of it you want in a dish too :) I find that locally grown garlic is more potent than imported Taiwanese/Spanish ones (imported garlic usually dries out during transport) so I use less of it. One of my favourite things to do is throw in a whole head’s worth of unpeeled garlic cloves to roast with veggies. The garlic gets mushy in their skins during cooking, so you can just squeeze the flesh out and spread it on the veggies (or bread, or roast meat) later. Mmmm. Oops, I went on a tangent there… this is what happens when I start talking about food :P

  11. says

    Rose, “Oops, I went on a tangent there… this is what happens when I start talking about food”

    LOL That’s okay. We all learned from what you posted. :grin:

  12. says

    I didn’t know “sarciado” pala can be for meat rin. I guess my dad just likes making use of fish kaya it’s what I’m used to. He doesn’t put potatoes though. I’ll ask him to try this out (hehe wala pa kong confidence sa cooking skills ko!) :grin:

  13. Leah says

    Connie — Kim O’Donnell of the Washington Post says that the neck/shoulder cut of meat is called “chuck”. Neck bones are just that — bones with a little bit of meat on them. These are delicious in sinigang but not really considered as a “cut” of meat. Actually, siguro more of gristle (as in pinagtabasan).

  14. Dot says

    Hi Connie!

    That looks yummy!!! I read somewhere that “batok” equivalent in english is beef chuck–which is fatty and great for slow cooking.

    And now, your pic has made me hungry for some sarciado and rice :lol:

    Thanks for all the hard work you do here and I cannot wait for the cookbook!

  15. Chris says

    Yes to those who said batok is chuck steak. I think you may be right. Here is a description from

    “The chuck section comes from the shoulder and neck of the beef, and it yields some of the most flavorful and economical cuts of meat. The downside is that these cuts tend to be tough and fatty, and they have more than their fair share of bone and gristle. It’s usually best to cook them slowly in a liquid.”


  16. says

    ok, is this your LP14 entry and you just forgot to tell me :grin:? you have til October 15. join na! p.s. let me know if you want this to be your entry so i can add it to the round-up.

  17. says

    So… it’s beef chuck. Great! Next time I post a recipe with beef “batok” as an ingredient, I can enclose (chuck) in parentheses). Thank you all. :)

    purplegirl, uuuyyyy pwede nga ano? sige, I’ll add a reference to Lasang Pinoy. Have to apologize to stef, never was able to post for the last LP cause I lost my DSL connection for almost a week. :sad:

  18. peterb says

    this is something i definitely will try. i might have to skip the “batok” though. i’m trying to manage my cholesterol. yung batok kasi pang pasakit ng batok! :mrgreen:

  19. Mimi from OC, CA says

    Yay! It’s beef chuck! Now that I know what meat to get, I can finally make this yummylicous dish! Thanks! :razz:

  20. says

    Siempre nagutom na naman ako.

    Ah, interesting to read about another version of sarciado. Like Aggie, our is almost always fish (very seldom chicken) and cooked over sauteed garlic, onions and diced tomatoes. A lightly beaten egg is pour into the pan right before turning off the heat.

  21. says

    :smile: I learned something new here, pwede pala ang beef for sarciado kasi fish lang din ang alm ko tulad ng ibang nagcomment.

    Oh, I want to inform you kahit medyo late na namention kita sa blog ko. Well, sa iyo at kay tita celia ako nakakuha ng tips sa pagluluto ng empanada. Siempre kailangan kong imention kayo, thanks, Con.

  22. Tito Rad says

    Makes me miss my mom even more (she’s in Illinois now), she used to cook sarciado even if it wasn’t a ‘special’ occasion, but something that delicious makes a meal instantly special!
    I might try this on Sunday, looks easy enough (I always say that to convince myself that I can do it :)), although I’m gonna have to trust the butcher to do his thing (cut across the grain? eh?)

    Hey sassy, would you happen to know any mahi-mahi recipes? Recently went to Surigao and had variations of mahi-mahi dishes for 4 days (buttered mahi-mahi for lunch, onion and garlic mahi-mahi for dinner…), the question is, WHERE do I get mahi-mahi?! I don’t think that’s the local name for the fish? Any proffesional help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  23. says

    why did i come here at this time . . . ? a few minutes before noon and i’m crazy hungry now! what an interesting sarciado indeed this one is! must try it some time soon . . . :-)

  24. says

    OK, I get off work at 8 am. I am going directly to the store on my way home to get the ingredients. If this recipe turns out well, this could become my favorite blog.

  25. Bruce says

    AHA! That’s what I thought, so that’s what I did. This is truly excellent. I cut a few corners. For instance, I used baby white potatoes, so there was no need to peel and I just quartered them. I also used diced, canned tomatoes. No dicing. I had some misgivings about using so much garlic, but it really makes the dish.

    So, now I have three recipes in my Philippines repertoire. I make a pretty mean dinuguan and a good karekare (with a little help from Mama Sita). I’m going to try to make one of your recipes at least once a month.

    Thanks so much!

  26. dhay says

    ms connie,
    ive been wanting to ask you about something, ive encounter a few recipes where they call for a “pork fat” , what exactly is a pork fat? just like the mechado photo u have in this particular entry, that thing in the middle, that’s the pork fat right? im really sorry to sound ignorant. when i hear pork fat, the first thing it comes to mind is “pork belly” as they are very notorious in fat/taba. we normally buy are meat and fish products here in toronto at chinese gorcery, would they know what pork fat is then? os pork fat is a special cut of meat?
    i thank u so much in advance.

  27. Ted A says

    I made the Sarciado tonight. You are right this is one of
    the best dishes. The Beef Chuck is like butter after cooking. I used the Pressure Cooker to do most of the cooking and it came out great. Thanks for the great

    Question on Dinuguan, I like my Dinuguan less thick, which I find that Ilocanos like. I prefer the Tagalog version (if there is such a thing). How do you keep
    the thickness down?


    Ted A

  28. says

    Ted, when you buy pork blood, there are solids in the liquid, right? Get rid of the liquid. Chop or mash the solids just before adding them to the simmering pot of pork. It’s the liquid blood that thickens the sauce. :)

  29. grace says

    hello poh . i plan to cook my the sarciado using my slow cooker, i see that ted used his..i wondered how long he left it to cook for…would 8 hours be already? or should i leave it for longer?

  30. eve says

    hi connie, i just try to visit this site wow i love 8 very much so interesting… how can i get this recipe? gusto ko kasi to lutuin. plssssssss?

  31. Popcorn says

    Hi Connie! This one talga is the one thay I am dying to try para kasing ang galing na cook ng dad mo and I imagine him na….he!he!he! I want kasi to try it using the batok meat eh….unfortunately I never had the chance to buy one, laging wala eh…..

  32. says

    Racquel, all the recipes on the blog are listed, as links, in the archive page. You may also use the searchbox. :) After five years of food blogging, I can’t remember anymore what I have posted and what I still haven’t.

  33. diomyr says

    hi ate connie im diomyr from dubai…when i saw ur cooking site, i was very happy and thankful coz i can cook now alone without being teach hehehe…salamat po…im sure im gonna love this site…

  34. says

    Oops. I should have posted it here – na-post ko sa Sarciadong dila ng baka. Connie, delete mo na lang yung comment ko sa ox tongue – dito dapat talaga yung comment – LOL!

    Here it goes:
    Connie “? I am currently trying this recipe and posted this in my FB status update. Let”?s see what will happen at 11 PM tonight. I’ll keep you posted. :D

  35. RheaMB says

    Hi, Connie,
    I am a fan. Thanks so much for your blogs. It has helped me a lot in learning how to cook now that I am married.

    I have a question regarding the use of the pressure cooker in this dish. This dish calls for 2-3 hours to tenderise the meat. Of course using a pressure cooker takes less time but tastewise, is there an advantage to cooking it that way versus using a pressure cooker?
    If using a pressure cooker, is it better tenderise the meat in the pressure cooker before or after sauteing?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Connie says

      Hi RheaMB,

      In a pressure cooker, the sauce does not thicken as very little evaporation takes place. So you don’t get that thick rich sauce.

      Advantage is the time you save. If you do use a pressure cooker, do so AFTER sauteing.

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