“Bistek” is technically not a Tagalog word. It is a Filipino play on words, referring to beef steak. Interestingly enough, the Spanish dictionary contains an almost identical word, “bistec” which also means beef steak. Bistek Tagalog is among the more popular beef dishes in many parts of the Philippines, not just in the Tagalog-speaking regions. Another popular version of this dish is the beef tapa, or cured beef. Beef tapa has gained enormous popularity since the culinary invention of the breakfast fare, tapsilog, which consists of strips of beef tapa served with fried egg over garlic fried rice.
You will find that strips of Bistek Tagalog can be used in place of the cured beef when preparing tapsilog. Incidentally, tapsilog is another of those play of words that combines TAPa, SInangag (fried rice) and itLOG (egg).
Bistek Tagalog is easy to prepare and requires just a few basic ingredients, among them, juice from the calamansi, a citrus fruit that is much like lime, except that it is tiny and round, just about the diameter of a quarter coin. In the absence of calamansi, lemon juice will work as well.
1 to 1.25 lb beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
4-5 pieces, calamansi or 1 medium-size lemon
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
In a bowl, marinate the beef in soy sauce, juice from the lemon or calamansi, and pepper for about 45 minutes to an hour
Heat the olive oil in wok or frying pan and saute the onions until tender. Set aside.
Fry the marinated beef (without the marinade) in the same pan used to fry the onions
When the beef turns brown, remove from the pan and set aside
Again using the same pan, saute the garlic until they turn golden brown
Pour the marinade into the pan and bring to a boil
Add back the beef and simmer for about half an hour or until the meat becomes tender. Add water as necessary.
Place the beef in a serving plate or bowl and top with the sauteed onions
Add salt to taste and serve
(Makes 4 servings)