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Bistek Tagalog is a type of Filipino beef stew. This is also known as Beefsteak to some people. It is comprised of thin slices of beef and a generous amount of onions. These are stewed in a soy sauce and lemon juice mixture until the beef gets very tender. It is best enjoyed with warm rice.
Easily one of the richest, most flavorful types of meat to choose from, beef is one source of protein that can truly shine in any handaan or celebration with an array of dishes. This is why, Filipinos, also love to integrate this filling red meat into our dishes. While it is versatile in working well with many other ingredients, it can also stand great on its own with few other components to support it. Our recipe today, a fan favorite called Bistek, is a fantastic example of this.
This is the kind of dish that is uprooted in quality over quantity with its ingredients. And these are carefully chosen to hype up our beef sirloin’s flavor. With the exciting taste of zesty calamansi and savory soy sauce marinating the meat, our resulting dish perfectly utilizes flavors that bounce well off each other.
This recipe does not require much ingredients and the procedure is simple. Beginners will enjoy learning how to cook bistek. I’m sure that you will also like how it tastes. Talking about taste, I enjoy pouring the sauce over warm rice. It makes it tastier and more enjoyable to eat.
What is Bistek and where did it come from?
The name of our dish is actually Spanish in origin, just like the dish, itself. Bistec means “steak” in Spanish, and a dish called Bistec Encebollado is actually where our recipe came from. You can find variations of this recipe in countries that used to be Spanish colonies. And it is essentially steak prepared with heaps of onions and added seasonings, much like our Bistek.
However, the Bistek Tagalog we know today has long been adjusted to the local palate. For one, we like to use calamansi for the tangy aspect of this dish. This is because it is one of the most accessible citrus fruits locally. And with the name of the dish in mind, you may have guessed it right that this dish is actually a Tagalog region specialty in Southern Luzon. But because of how it perfectly fits most Filipinos’ palates in its balance of salty and semi-sour, you can now find it in various households all over the country.
In fact, it has other names in other parts of the Philippines. Ilonggo people also like to call this dish of beautifully marinated beef slices Karne Frita. The popularity of this recipe can also stem from its delightful taste despite the simplicity of its ingredients. This is because it makes smart use of cooking methods such as marinating, sautéing and slow cooking. From this, we are able to get gorgeously tender slices of marinated beef, enriched with the taste of pan-fried onions.
What are some health benefits that come with eating Bistek?
For starters, you get a great deal of protein from your sirloin to keep you energized for your day ahead. And the dish, compared to numerous other Filipino recipes, uses less oil. It mainly only requires 4 tablespoons of cooking oil for our sautéing of various ingredients. Moreover, we use calamansi for this dish– a fantastic source of vitamin C. This makes it great for your memory, as well as keeping your insulin levels balanced. This sweet and sour fruit also contains potassium and calcium, among many other nutrients.
This dish also makes use of delicious yellow onions and garlic for that pinch of flavor. These can both aid in keeping your cholesterol levels low. Research also shows that garlic has antioxidants that could help keep dementia and Alzheimer’s disease away. Garlic is also rich in a good variety of vitamins and nutrients. This includes Selenium, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and fiber.
What if I’m missing a couple of ingredients? What substitutes can I use for this Bistek recipe?
You might find yourself having used up all the kalamansi at home. And your local market may have also run out of the beef sirloin this Bistek recipe needs. That should be okay, as there are alternatives to these ingredients you can definitely utilzie instead. For one, our recipe already indicates that you can replace your calamansi with some lemon or lime. These can already provide that much needed subtle tangy twist to the dish.
And although sirloin would be the most fitting beef cut for this dish, you can also try other parts of the cow. Make sure that you try to slice whichever part you can get your hands on thinly. If it tends to be on the leaner side, you can also try tenderizing with a mallet. This is to get your Bistek Tagalog just as satisfyingly succulent and tender as with a beef sirloin.
As for our yellow onion, you can also try other varieties of this vegetable to mimic its flavor and texture. For this, you can try substituting the yellow onion with white or red onions. Now you have a bunch of options for when you might be out of stock in calamansi, beef sirloin or yellow onion!
How should I store my Bistek? And can I have it reheated for consumption again?
Bistek Tagalog, like many other delectable Filipino viands, is best when fresh off the stove. But you can definitely adopt a couple of tips for storage if you ever end up with leftovers. This also helps if you’ve cooked too much for your family or dinner guests. And so to store your meaty dish properly, make sure to use an airtight container with a lid that fits tightly. Place all of your Bistek inside. Then toss this in the refrigerator to keep it safe for consumption for about 3 more days.
You also have the option of making this last longer– about a few months. Simply place the container in the freezer. And make sure to check up on it to ensure that it is still good for eating before you dig in again. And of course, an optimal way of having your Bistek after it’s been refrigerated is by reheating it.
Which recipes can I try that bear some similarity to the delicious Bistek?
If you are a fan of the savory, earthy taste of liver, this is a fantastic alternative to the traditional Bistek. Our Grilled Liver Bistek recipe has all the essentials of a great viand– some flavorful stew with rich soy sauce and garlic, as well as a great source of protein in our pig’s liver. Moreover, it takes less time to make than the classic Bistek Tagalog. You will have to cook for less than an hour. And the end result is a unique, tasty dish of sautéed garlic and onions, as well as that deliciously smokey, grilled liver.
The hero ingredient also amazingly enough has a great deal of iron to help with your growth and keep hemoglobin levels up. And compared to our beef sirloin, pig’s liver is more affordable and accessible, which is great for some bistek on a budget.
With such a great mix of flavors, it is no wonder that we’ve got a pretty good variety of Bistek recipes. This one, in particular, is a bistek rendition that comes close to the popularity of the original. With heaps of deliciously savory pork chop and onions, this dish is sure to satisfy your party of six quite well. The Filipino Pork Chop Steak dabbles with the amazing citrus-y and salty flavors of bistek, but with another red meat ingredient.
Pork chop makes for a terrific meat component in this dish because it starts off with a very mild flavor. And so it takes very easily to the delicious taste of red onions, calamansi and soy sauce to show off a rich, delightful flavor. Our pork chop steak is also incredibly juicy without having to use a lot of cooking oil!
You may not be a massive fan of using meat for your viands. After all, seafood has a distinct appeal in its mild taste and unique texture. If that is the case for you, worry not because we’ve also got a Bistek recipe that instead uses the deliciously filling Tanigue. This can also serve as a healthier alternative to beef or any type of meat, as they usually have higher saturated fat content. And despite the use of fish, you still get that satisfyingly crisp, golden brown exterior.
We get this desirable texture from the process of frying our Tanigue before integrating most of our bistek essentials into the dish. Doing this helps keep the fish from falling apart when we begin to stew it, and it also heightens the Tanigue’s flavor. But don’t worry because frying beforehand won’t take too long, and this dish actually only takes 1 hour to make. It’ll be perfect for your lunch or dinner party of 6!
With hints of irresistible sweetness and umami, there is something truly special about a good teriyaki dish. This is why I decided to put together our delicious bistek flavors with that of teriyaki. Not only do you get the distinct zestiness of bistek in your meat, but you’ll also have a taste of sweet and sticky teriyaki.
For this dish, I would redomment using sliced skirt steak, but you have the option of cooking with other cuts of beef. Simply slice this up very thinly to get that much needed tender texture, instead of a gamey and tough meat. Our marinade for this recipe also helps keep it soft, while balancing those flavors incredibly well from the get go. Try this Teriyaki Bistek for your next gathering and wow your guests with just how well you’ve brought together two incredibly meaty fan favorites!
If you have any questions or suggestions for this recipe, do not hesitate to comment below! We want to hear from you!
For this step, simply take a pan. And then put your Bistek inside the pan after you’ve let it cool if it came from the refrigerator. Then reheat this on medium heat until it becomes perfectly warm all over. The time will vary depending on how many servings you have left. But you can try to mix the Bistek with a spatula to ensure the heat is getting through nicely.
The option of using a microwave is also welcome for reheating Bistek. Do this by microwaving the dish at 2 to 3-minute intervals. Once you can see that the heat has evenly distributed onto the meat, you’re good to go with your hot and delicious Bistek Tagalog!
How to Cook Bistek Tagalog – Pinoy Beefsteak
Marinate in soy sauce and calamansi
The process requires the beef to be marinated in soy sauce and calamansi juice. This step helps infuse flavors to the meat. I use dark soy sauce for this recipe. You should be able to use light soy sauce without issues. Calamansi or calamondin is best use for this dish. However, lemon or lime can be used as alternative ingredients.
Simply combine soy sauce, calamansi juice, and ground black pepper in a bowl. Add beef slices. Marinate for 1 hour. It will be better if you can place everything in a resealable ziplock bag and let all the air out before sealing. The minimum marinate time is one hour, but doing it overnight is ideal.
Fry the beef
The next step is to pan fry the marinated beef slices and onions. Make sure to drain the remaining marinade before frying the beef. Save the marinade. We will use it later.
I usually pan fry half of the onions first before the beef. You just need to fry the onions until it starts to get soft. Take it out of the pan immediately and set aside. This will be added as the topping for the dish. Pan-fry the beef for 1 minute per side. Take it out of the pan afterwards. Add extra oil if needed.
Saute and cook until tender
Saute garlic and remaining onion. The onion needs to be soft and the garlic should be light brown before you pour the remaining beef marinade. Add water and let the mixture boil. Put the pan-fried beef into the pan. The beef needs to be tenderized. Cover the pan and simmer until the beef becomes really tender. This is where good quality meat and cuts stand out. It is important to use the freshest beef and select tender cuts such as sirloin and top round. Do not forget to add water if the liquid starts to dry out. You can season it with more ground black pepper and salt if needed.
Top with more onions
Top the dish with pan-fried onions before serving.
Try this Bistek Tagalog Recipe and let me know what you think.
- Marinate beef in soy sauce, lemon (or calamansi), and ground black pepper for at least 1 hour. Note: marinate overnight for best result
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan then pan-fry half of the onions until the texture becomes soft. Set aside
- Drain the marinade from the beef. Set it aside. Pan-fry the beef on the same pan where the onions were fried for 1 minute per side. Remove from the pan. Set aside
- Add more oil if needed. Saute garlic and remaining raw onions until onion softens.
- Pour the remaining marinade and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add beef. Cover the pan and simmer until meat is tender. Note: Add water as needed.
- Season with ground black pepper and salt as needed. Top with pan-fried onions.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!