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Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Steak and Onions)

2 Mins read

This is a very simple dish that requires just a handful of ingredients: soy sauce, lemon, ground pepper and of course your meat. The ratio of your seasonings and marinade is the key to the success of this dish. Of course how much one uses is very subjective and this why the flavor of this dish could differ among Filipino families. Preparation is easy, the key is to not overcook the meat which most cooks are prone to do. It’s really delicious when done right.

My late grandmother or “Lola” who was a very good cook can whip this up with little effort. She was the one who taught me how to make this. During one of my visits to her in Chicago, she showed me where she gets her meat to make bistek, a Mexican grocery store. We went up to the meat section and pointed at “Bola de res” and asked the butcher to slice it thinly for her. Since we don’t have any Mexican grocery near us I just use thinly sliced ribeye roll from my local Asian store.


To make, Place your meat about 1.5 lb in a ziplock bag and add 1/4 – 1/2 cup Filipino soy sauce (I prefer the lauriat brand) not Kikkoman or any other Asian soy sauce, the juice of one lemon (if you can get your hands on calamansi please use this instead), ground pepper and a dash of worcetershire sauce. Marinate for at least an hour preferably overnight.


Get a large white onion and cut into rounds. Heat a non-stick pan and add about 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil, cook your onion until just crisp tender and set aside. In the same pan add a couple of tablespoon of oil and quickly pan fry your meat without crowding the pan. Cook your meat in batches. Make sure that you don’t overcook your meat so it won’t get tough. You just want to get a nice brown color on both sides. Place in a platter and top with your fried onions.

If you want your bistek to have a little bit of sauce you can do this. In another pan, add 1/4 cup soy sauce, the juice of one lemon and 1/4-1/2 cup water. Let this simmer for a minute then add your cooked meat and just let it get coated with the sauce. Place in serving platter and top with your fried onions.