Filipino Bistek Tagalog Recipe

Bistek Tagalog (also known as Filipino Beef Steak) is another classic Filipino recipe. Despite the recipe’s simplicity, it brings out the best of flavors for this Filipino dish. The key ingredients are the soy sauce, citrus juice, sugar, garlic, and most definitely the onions. Lots and lots of onions.

Traditionally, bistek is made with calamansi, a type of citrus indigenous to the Philippines. Not only does the citrus bring out acidic and tart flavors in the dish, but it also tenderizes the meat in the process. Sometimes, calamansi can be hard to find especially outside the Philippines. This can easily be substituted with us citrus fruits like lemon or lime.

Onions are also essential to the recipe. Using different types of onions are best, since different types of onions carry different flavor profiles. For this recipe, we used yellow/brown, white, and red onions. Yellow onions are typically sweeter compared to white onions that have a sharp and pungent flavor. Red onions on the other hand, have a more delicate flavor compared to the other two. It’s also best to add these in batches as you cook, so that you create a variety of textures. Add them in early for jammy, caramelized onions. Add another batch at the end to have more crisp onions.

And of course, the bistek isn’t complete without a side of white rice.

READ MORE: Sizzling Bulalo Steak Recipe


How to make Bistek Tagalog

  • 450 g quality beef (skirt, flank or striploin), sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/6 cup lime juice
  • 1/6 cup lemon juice
  • peanut oil to fry
  • 1 big white onion, sliced half-inch thick
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced half-inch thick
  • 2 brown onions, sliced half-inch thick
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp baking soda (for velvetting)
  1. Sprinkle baking soda over beef and mix to coat evenly. Wash under cold water after 20 minutes and strain.
  2. Mix light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, lime and lemon juice. Submerge the beef and  leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour up to 12 hours.
  3. Chop onions half an inch thick. Set aside.
  4. Heat up a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add marinated beef. Avoid overcrowding. Cook in batches if needed. Cook for 2 minutes each side. Set beef aside.
  5. In the same pan, add minced garlic and onions. Sweat for 5 minutes. Add beef back in. Add remaining marinade and water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Once reduced, add second batch of onions. Let is sweat for 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Optional: Garnish with chopped chives and shallots. Serve with white rice.
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