Nothing satisfies quite like a hearty mechado. Traditionally, mechado makes use of hard or cheaper cuts of meat, stewed for a long time to make it tender. The whole idea of Mesa Ni Misis revolves around the idea that we should not sacrifice the quality of food, simply to create a full meal. A kilo of beef that feeds 4 people between P250 to P300. That is enough for one meal- stretched very thinly to two. Jackfruit or Langka is a hearty substitute for meat as its packed with nutrients and fibre to keep you full for a long time. A whole jackfruit that could feed 15-20 people weighs in at around P300. Cooking with this highly adaptable fruit has added a new dimension to our plant based cooking.
When I first started reading about cooking with jackfruit, or langka as its called in the Philippines, I was unsure. Eating langka reminded me of my grandmother who would bring big ripe, juicy langkas when she would visit us. We would open it together and I would eat it straight out of the shell. After we had our fill, we would freeze the langka to enjoy later. It was delicious frozen as it was fleshy, juicy and sweet all at the same time. Cooking with this fruit was not so appealing to me!
I read on to find out that the langka used for cooking was the young, green langka. When you cut it open, its hard,fibrous and full of sinews. But it is those qualities that give langka the meaty type texture once it has been boiled and the fibres softened. Cooking the langka takes a bit of time to get it fork tender, so I would suggest par boiling it for about 30 minutes before adding the other mechado ingredients, as not to dry it out. Add a few talinum leaves to help soften the langka faster, as talinum has pectinases – these are enzymes that break pectins, and can soften other vegetables they are cooked with.
I loved watching my family’s reactions when this was first served. It had the same taste of the regular mechado they had always enjoyed, but with a different texture. In all honesty, it took the kids a little longer to adjust to the the new ‘meat’ in this stew, but after months of eating plant based meals, they look forward to this meaty meatless stew!
- 1/2 medium young langka, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 4 pieces tomatoes, cubed
- 2 pieces potato, cubed
- 1 piece bell pepper, cubed
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbstp soy or tamari sauce
- 1 cup water
Sautee garlic, onions and tomatoes.
Add the langka, bell pepper, potatoes.
Add the tomato paste and soy or tamari sauce.
Simmer for two minutes.
Add the water.
Cook until langka is tender, about one hour.
Serve over rice.