Despite the foreign sounding name, it appears that beef salpicao is a Filipino dish. Is it related to the Portuguese sausage called salpicão? Well, the Filipino beef salpicao is definitely not a sausage but, rather, a garlicky stir fried dish.
It was a challenge finding the history of this dish, I still don’t know where in the Philippines it first appeared but I did discover two things which may help explain the “salpicao” part of its name. First, salpicado is a Spanish word which means “spattered with” (thank you, Clair). Considering that the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over four centuries, “salpicao” just might be a derivative of salpicado. Second, farther search led me to references to salpicao as a Brazilian word. I found a Brazilian-English translator which says that salpicao means “dotty” in English. I figure that “spattered with” and “dotty” might just refer to the gazillion bits of garlic in beef salpicao. Maybe. Perhaps. Arguable. Debatable.
What isn’t in doubt is how delicious beef salpicao is. Tender and juicy beef cubes that are salty and subtly sweet and boldly smelling and tasting of garlic. The way the meat tastes and smells, you’d think it has been flavored by a hundred spices. But beef salpicao has very few ingredients! The simplicity in the preparation and the startling deep flavors… it’s just the perfect main dish for a party. You can even serve it as a cocktail food! Place in a platter, hand out small forks and voila!
- 700 to 800 grams beef tenderloin cut into one-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 to 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 to 5 tablespoons liquid seasoning (I used Knorr — I do not recommend substituting soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter combined with about 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
Place the beef cubes in a bowl. Add the minced garlic, pepper and 3 tbsps. of olive oil. Mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan — wide enough to contain the beef cubes in a single layer. The heat should be very high.
Place the beef in a plastic freezer bag. Add the flour. Shake to coat each piece of meat with flour. It is the flour that will thicken the sauce later and make it stick well to the beef.
When the olive oil and butter are hot, add the floured beef, spreading the pieces so that every piece touches the oil. Do not stir for a minute or so to allow the underside to brown. Keep the heat very high. Stir and cook for a few minutes, with occasional stirring, until the beef changes color and a light crust forms.
Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning. Stir briskly; the sauce should thicken quite fast. Add the mushrooms, cook just until heated, stirring occasionally.
The actual cooking should take no more than five minutes. If you overcook the beef, the meat will turn tough and dry.
Transfer the beef salpicao to a serving platter, sprinkle with toasted garlic bits and finely sliced scallions. Serve hot with rice.