Bistek Tagalog

by arnold on May 19, 2008

UPDATE 11/29/08:
I made a grilled version for Thanksgiving. Check it out!

UPDATE 11/2/08:
While this recipe is still good, I have a different version that I like a lot better. I’ll leave this recipe up for archival purposes, but for better results (IMO), see the newer post.

Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beefsteak) is one of my favorite dishes, and it’s so easy to make that I’m actually disappointed in myself for not making it before. Traditionally, it’s a simple marinade of soy sauce, kalamansi juice and garlic, and you can use almost any cut of steak. Kalamansi is a musk lime that’s native to the Philippines, but I only had lemons on hand, so I used those. Next time I make this, I’ll see if I can get my hands on some kalamansi. Otherwise I’ll use the regular supermarket limes or maybe mix lime and lemon juice.

Bistek Tagalog

Many recipes I saw called for chuck, flank, skirt or sirloin steaks, but I used some thinly sliced New York steaks that I found at Safeway. I also saw some recipes that used red onions, but I’m used to either yellow or white onions in this dish. Use whatever you prefer. You can also plate this however you like. I like to mix the onions and sauce up with the rice, so that’s why they’re separate on the plate.

1 pound of thinly cut steaks
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings

¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Combine marinade ingredients and marinate steaks for no longer than 30 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, cook the steaks over medium high heat. If you’re using thinner steaks, this should only take a few minutes. After the steaks are cooked, remove from skillet and place on a plate. Keep warm.
  3. Add the onion slices to the pan and cook until softened. Top the steaks with the onions
  4. Add the remaining marinade to the skillet and reduce for about a minute to make a sauce. If the sauce is too strong, add a little water to dilute it a bit. When the sauce is ready, pour over the steak and onions.
  5. Serve with steamed rice.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie May 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

Your cut of beef looks uncannily like Oogie Boogie


Steph May 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Why is it called Bistek Tagalog? Are there other styles that are not Tagalog?


Arnold May 19, 2008 at 8:22 pm

@Steph: Maybe to differentiate between other bisteks around the world? Like Bistek a la Pobre from Peru…


Lando May 20, 2008 at 9:20 am

Growing up, nothing beats bistek. It’s my #2 dish next to Sinigang. The dish looks good.


Dave May 21, 2008 at 12:01 am

I’d rather eat this beef steak tagalog than what I made tonight, the chef needed his puke bucket beside him when he was tasting my food.


skgunning June 24, 2008 at 9:28 am

you can also mix the meat with pork liver.. just a suggestion, its really good… but in manila we make our bistek tagalog with bay leaves ( laurel leaves ), and some hot peppers for those who likes spices.. try it guys, you’ll like it…


Adrian September 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Why does this bistek pic looks like turd? xD

Sana makakuha ka ng masmagandang pic.


Aileen January 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm

hey arnie…i have always used your bistek recipe to make bistek. i brought it on a potluck once and it was well received. recently i tried using beef that they use for bulgogi. very thin, thus very tasty too.


Arnold February 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm

yeah, you can use almost any thin cut of meat for this. I think it’s best with flank/skirt/flap steak though.


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