A Garlicky Filipino Bistek - Bistek Tagalog

Bistek: Filipino Beef Steak
Connie Veneracion
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 servings
Ratings (13)

The name of the dish is a puzzle, but Philippine history provides a couple of clues.

Bistek could be an adaptation of American beef steak or the Spanish bistec. Either is possible because the Philippines was a Spanish colony for more than 375 years and an American possession for more than four decades. 

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

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

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound beef sirloin (top round, bottom round or rib-eye)
  • 1/4 cup calamondin juice (or lime or lemon juice; more or less)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (or more as needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion (thinly sliced)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons scallions (snipped, to garnish)

How to Make It

  1. Slice the beef thinly; about 1/8-inch thick or less is ideal.
  2. Place the beef in a shallow bowl.
  3. Pour in the calamondin, lime or lemon juice, and soy sauce.
  4. Add the black pepper and minced garlic.
  5. Mix thoroughly but gently so you do not tear the meat. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  6. Drain the beef and reserve the marinade.
  7. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
  8. Fry the onion slices just until softened, remove from the pan and set aside.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Sprinkle snipped scallions over the cooked bistek before serving, if desired.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 537
Total Fat 35 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Unsaturated Fat 21 g
Cholesterol 135 mg
Sodium 1,355 mg
Carbohydrates 9 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 47 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)