Bistek Tagalog Recipe

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Bistek Tagalog Recipe



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Bistek Tagalog, also known as Filipino Beef Steak, is a traditional dish that is beloved across the Philippines. It combines the rich flavors of soy sauce and citrus with the tenderness of beef, creating a meal that is both hearty and refreshing. This dish reflects the fusion of local and Spanish culinary traditions, showcasing the simplicity and depth of Filipino cuisine. Here, I’ll share a detailed recipe that will guide you through preparing Bistek Tagalog at home, ensuring you can savor this classic Filipino dish no matter where you are.


500 grams of beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of soy sauce
Juice of 2 lemons or 5 calamansi
1 large onion, sliced into rings
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon of sugar to balance the acidity


Marinate the Beef: Begin by marinating the beef slices in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon or calamansi juice, and minced garlic. Make sure the beef is well-coated with the marinade.

Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight for best results.

This process not only flavors the meat but also tenderizes it.

Prepare the Onion Rings: While the beef is marinating, prepare your onion rings. The key to perfect onion rings for Bistek Tagalog is to slice them not too thin but just thick enough to retain some crunch after cooking.

Sear the Beef: Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the marinated beef slices in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each slice for about 1-2 minutes per side or until they are nicely browned. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.

Sauté the Onions: In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion rings and sauté them until they are soft but still slightly crisp. Remove the onions from the pan and set them aside with the beef.

Simmer the Sauce: Pour the remaining marinade into the pan and add 1/2 cup of water. Bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the browned bits into the sauce.

This will add more flavor to your Bistek Tagalog. If you find the sauce too acidic, you can add a tablespoon of sugar to balance it out.

Combine and Serve: Return the beef slices to the pan and simmer them in the sauce for a few minutes until they are fully cooked and tender. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste. Finally, add the sautéed onions on top of the beef.

Serve Hot: Serve your Bistek Tagalog hot, ideally with a generous portion of steamed rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

Bistek Tagalog is a testament to the Filipino people’s ability to create dishes that are straightforward yet full of flavor. Its tangy, savory sauce paired with the tenderness of beef and the crunch of onions makes it a comforting meal suitable for any day of the week. Whether you’re new to Filipino cuisine or a seasoned enthusiast, this Bistek Tagalog recipe is sure to delight your palate and bring a taste of the Philippines right to your dining table.

Cooking Tips for Perfect Bistek Tagalog

To elevate your Bistek Tagalog, here are some expert tips that can help you achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures:

Choosing the Right Cut of Beef: While sirloin is commonly used for its tenderness, you can also use other cuts such as flank or round steak. The key is slicing the beef thinly across the grain to ensure it cooks quickly and remains tender.

Marinating Time: Marinating is crucial for flavoring the beef and making it tender. Overnight marination is ideal, but if you’re short on time, ensure at least an hour to let the flavors meld into the meat.

Balancing Flavors: The hallmark of a great Bistek Tagalog is the balance between the soy sauce’s saltiness and the lemon or calamansi juice’s acidity. Adjust these ingredients according to your taste, and remember, you can always add a bit of sugar to mellow the acidity if needed.

Cooking in Batches: To ensure each slice of beef is perfectly seared and not steamed, cook the meat in batches. This allows each piece to have direct contact with the heat, ensuring a nice browning that adds depth to the dish’s flavor.

Resting the Meat: After cooking, let the beef rest in the sauce for a few minutes off the heat.

This allows the meat to absorb the flavors further and become even more tender.

Serving Suggestions: While traditionally served with steamed rice, Bistek Tagalog can also be enjoyed with garlic fried rice (sinangag) for an extra layer of flavor. Additionally, serving it with a side of pickled papaya (atchara) can provide a refreshing contrast to the dish’s savory notes.

Cultural Significance

Bistek Tagalog is more than just a meal; it’s a reflection of Filipino hospitality and the importance of sharing meals with loved ones. It’s a common dish served during both everyday family dinners and special occasions. Preparing and sharing Bistek Tagalog is a way of bringing people together, embodying the warmth and generosity of Filipino culture.

Bistek Tagalog stands as a proud representation of Filipino culinary artistry, showcasing how simple ingredients can be transformed into a dish that resonates with flavors and emotions. Its preparation is a loving process, from marinating the beef to carefully sautéing the onions and simmering the sauce to perfection. By following this recipe and incorporating the tips provided, you’ll be able to recreate a piece of Filipino heritage in your kitchen, offering both a delicious meal and a gesture of care to those you share it with. Whether you’re cooking for a weekday dinner or a special occasion, Bistek Tagalog is sure to be a heartwarming addition to your table.


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