Garlicky Filipino Bistek (Bistek Tagalog)

Garlicky Filipino Bistek (Bistek Tagalog)

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 22 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yields: 3 cups

While bistek is thought to have originated in the Philippines in the Tagalog regions, there are other widely held opinions that suggest it is more Spanish by influence. With a majority, if not all, of the other countries that Spain colonized having a dish similar to bistek, it makes for a great argument that Spain brought the recipe to these newly conquered territories and each region created their own take.

Although garlic is not a traditional ingredient of bistek, it adds depth of flavor and tempting aroma.

The amount of citrus juice in the ingredient list is approximate because calamondins (oranges of the Philippines), limes, and lemons have varying degrees of acidity.

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The Spruce Eats


  • 1 pound beef sirloin

  • 1/4 cup calamondin juice, or lime or lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion

  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Garlicky Filipino Bistek (Bistek Tagalog) ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Slice the beef thinly; about 1/8-inch thick or less is ideal.

    slice beef thinly

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Place the beef in a shallow bowl. Pour in the calamondin, lime or lemon juice, and soy sauce. Add the black pepper and minced garlic.

    beef with spices and marinade

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Mix thoroughly but gently so you do not tear the meat. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

    beef in a marinade

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Drain the beef and reserve the marinade.

    Drain the beef and reserve the marinade

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.

    frying pan with oil

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Fry the onion slices just until softened, remove from the pan, and set aside.

    onion slices cooking in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Add the drained beef when the oil reaches its smoking point, spreading the slices to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook just until the underside changes color and then flip the meat over.

    beef in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Add the reserved marinade to the pan. The water that the meat will expel during cooking and the marinade will form the sauce for the dish.

    beef cooking in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Cook the meat in the marinade, and when it is no longer pink, scatter the sliced onions on top. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes more or until cooked to the desired doneness.

    beef and onions cooking in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Sprinkle scallions over the cooked bistek before serving, if desired.

    Garlicky Filipino Bistek (Bistek Tagalog) in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Recipe Variations

  • You can substitute beef sirloin with beef top round, bottom round, or rib-eye.
  • To balance the sour flavor with a touch of sweetness, add about 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar or brown sugar.

What is Calamondin Juice?

Calamondin juice comes from the calamansi tree or shrub, a plant native to the Philippines and other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. The tart, golden orange-colored juice is typically used as a condiment, a beverage, and an ingredient in marinades. Key lime juice, lime juice, and lemon juice may be substituted.

What Do You Serve With Bistek Tagalog?

Serve bistek Tagalog with hot steamed rice and cooked greens, carrots, or a side salad.

What Does Bistek Tagalog Mean?

Bistek is a Spanish word that means "beefsteak." Tagalog refers to a region of the Philippines, and it is the national language of the Philippines.

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