Bistek (Filipino Pan-Fried Beef Steak)
Though I grew up with Filipino food and my dad is one of the best Filipino food cooks I know, I’m actually not that good at cooking Filipino food (yet). I once made Chicken Adobo but it sucked so bad I wanted to cry. And I made Sinigang na Baka and it was alright but hardly had the sour I wanted and the vegetables were undercooked and the meat was overcooked.
I finally got a Filipino food cookbook and now I’m going to change that. I decided to start with Bistek, since I already had everything, even the fresh calamansi which I got from my dad’s massive tree in the backyard.
Courtesy of Marvin Gapultos, The Adobo Road Cookbook
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh calamansi juice, or fresh lemon juice
- 2 lbs flank steak
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 large onion, cut into thin rings
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Combine the soy sauce and calamansi juice (or lemon juice, if using) in a small bowl. Place the steak in a large resealable food storage bag, or in a shallow baking dish, and pour the marinade over the steak. Marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, in the refrigerator.
Remove the steak from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Pat the steak dry all over with paper towels. If the steak is too big to fit into a large saute pan, cut the steak in half. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over moderately high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the steak to the pan and cook until the steak is seared and nicely browned on both sides, 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare doneness. If you had to cut your steak in half, cook each half one at a time so that you don’t overcrowd your pan. Transfer the seared steak to a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat over moderately high heat. Toss the onion rings into the pan and cook until the onion softens, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until the garlic just begins to brown, 2-3 minutes. Pour the water and the reserved marinade into the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the sugar and bring the sauce to a boil. Cover the pan, and then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the seared steak across the grain. Taste the sauce in the pan and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
Drizzle the sliced steak with the sauce and onion, and serve with steamed white rice.
I have finally and officially cooked a delicious Filipino dish. This was just so good. Bistek is one of my favorite dishes and this is probably the best I have ever had it. Many times when I eat Bistek, it is just over salty. With the low-sodium soy sauce that I substituted as well as the brown sugar, it was just the perfect balance for me. Brown sugar is not traditionally added but I appreciate the addition. Also normally with Bistek they use thinly sliced beef sirloin, but what I liked about the recipe is that they used flank steak (in this case, I used beef chuck because it was cheaper) and the beef is seared to medium rare with a nice browned crust. Although this recipe took a couple twists to traditional Bistek, it was perfect to me. My dad even told me it was really good!
Note: The original recipe asks for half of the soy sauce, calamansi juice, and brown sugar than what is listed above. I doubled it because I like my Bistek very saucy. Also if you want to thicken the sauce, add some corn starch.
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