Bistek Tagalog is made of thinly sliced sirloin braised in a mixture of citrus, soy sauce, onions, and garlic. This Filipino beef steak is hearty, tasty, and perfect with steamed rice.
If you noticed, I’ve been doing a lot of recipe throwbacks lately. The blog is five years old, and a lot has changed since I launched it in January 2013. I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’d like to think I’ve improved at taking pictures or structuring my posts.
Bringing old recipes to the front of the blog is a great way to reintroduce them to readers and the perfect opportunity for me to refresh them with new cooking tips and, sometimes, new photos.
Today’s throwback is very special to me. Bistek was the first recipe I posted on the blog, and below is the whole entirety of that post.
I checked my Feedburner account today and as I have yet to post a recipe here, was pleasantly surprised to find I have already four subscribers. Wow, thank you. If your anticipation for the deliciousness that’s sure to come doesn’t inspire me to get cooking, I don’t know what else would. Whoever you are, I apologize for the delay. I’ve been busy getting my other cooking blog, Onion Rings and Things, on track, I kind of sidelined Kawaling Pinoy. But here it is! Our first recipe, Bistek!
I took the new pictures months ago but I am a sentimental old hag, and I didn’t have the heart to change the post. There’s just something so awful and yet endearing about a very first, I couldn’t quite decide whether to keep it as is for posterity’s sake or update with additional information.
After toggling back and forth, I realized I’ll give this bistek recipe better justice by adding more “meat.” So, yes, new photos and cooking tips it is 🙂
But before we head further, allow me to get emotional for a quick minute. Thank you for liking, commenting, sharing, visiting, and supporting Kawaling Pinoy. When I hit “publish” for the very first time, I didn’t realize how much it would change the course of my life. Being able to own my business and blog full time was all but a pipe dream then, and I can’t believe I am now living it.
I mean, seriously, FOUR email subscribers when we started, and now you’re 12,500 strong! I can’t be more grateful.
What is Bistek
Bistek Tagalog is a classic Filipino dish made of thinly sliced beef braised in a mixture of citrus juice (more commonly, the local fruit, calamansi), soy sauce, onions, garlic, and pepper. A delicious medley of salty, tangy, and savory flavors, it’s traditionally served with steamed rice.
Also known as beefsteak, it was adapted from the Spanish bistec encebollado to suit our local tastes and indigenous ingredients.
- I usually use top round or sirloin for the cut of beef but if you prefer a bit of fat marbling, chuck roast is a good option.
- Do not skip pan-frying the beef as this step adds incredible flavor. Make sure to squeeze the marinade well from the meat and pat dry if necessary to ensure a good sear. Brown on high heat and don’t overcrowd the pan to ensure a nice outside crust.
- The beef will release a bit of juice when pan-fried. Spoon it from the pan and add it back along with the marinade during braising.
- Squeeze the onions and garlic of the marinade and use to braise the beef. Use a fresh piece of onion as the garnish.
- Season the sauce with salt when already reduced as the depth of flavor (saltiness etc.) concentrates as the liquid evaporates.
- The recipe calls for lemon juice because I don’t always have access to calamansi. If you do, you might need to adjust amounts as lemon has a stronger acid taste.
- Use the same pan to finish the dish; those browned bits in the pan from searing the meat mean maximum flavor!
The secret to tender beef
One common practice is to pound the sliced beef with a mallet to help tenderize. Please don’t waste your time; there’s no need. Braising low and slow will give you a tender enough chew. Just have your butcher cut the beef across the grain so it won’t be tough and stringy.
How to serve
Bistek Tagalog is traditionally served as a main dish for lunch or dinner and best enjoyed with piping-hot steamed rice. Top the dish with fresh onions before serving as garnish.
How to store leftovers
- Transfer leftovers to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to months.
- Reheat in a pan over medium heat or in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until completely warmed through.
- 2 pounds top round or sirloin, sliced thinly
- 2 lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced into rings
- In a bowl, combine beef, lemon juice, soy sauce, sliced onions, garlic, and pepper. Massage marinade into the meat and marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Remove meat, onions, and garlic from marinade, squeezing and reserving excess liquid.
- In a pan over high heat, heat oil. Add beef and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Spoon out and reserve released meat juices during frying. Remove meat.
- In the pan, add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring regularly, until softened. Return browned beef to pan.
- Add reserved marinade and meat juices. Add water and bring to a boil.
- Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes or until meat is fork-tender and liquid is reduced. Season with salt to taste.
- Turn off heat. Garnish with onion rings, if desired, and cover to allow onions to cook slightly in the steam. Serve hot.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”