Bistec picado


If you’re a blogger and you have Google Analytics (or something smilar) installed, you might have occasionally checked what the most popular pages on your blog are. In this blog, there are two consistent topnotchers — bistek and puto. Yep, iconic Filipino dishes with names worth discussing a bit. Let’s start with the puto.

I might have written about it before but it’s worth mentioning again. Puto, in Spanish, is not a nice word. It is, alternatively, a derogatory name for homosexuals or a male prostitute. Someone, I forget now who, once wrote that the first person who called our steamed cakes puto must either have done it as a joke — a joke that most Filipinos, as they didn’t speak Spanish, never really caught on. And the word puto entered our dictionary and vocabulary and has since stayed there.

Now, about bistek. I always knew it was an adaptation of the English word “steak.” But I always thought that bistek was a uniquely Filipino thing. Well, until I started developing a serious affinity with Mexican and Latin American food. As it turns out, bistec is a dish found all over South America and the Caribbean. And like our bistek, the many variations of bistec are all pan-fried and saucy strips of steak. Bistec picado is one of them.

Bistec picado

What is bistec picado? Bistec is steak; picado means ground or minced. Bistec picado is a dish of browned pieces of meat (beef, traditionally, but lamb or pork are okay too) braised with chilis in tomato sauce and topped with bell peppers or onion, or both.

Bistec picado

There are so many variations, some spicier and more complex than others. This is the simple version adapted especially for home cooks.

Jalapeños appear to be the most popular chili for this dish. Because I don’t have access to fresh jalapeños, I used jalapeños in a jar.

Recipe: Bistec picado


  • 3 to 4 tbsps. of olive oil
  • 800 g. of beef or lamb or pork (a tender cut that cooks fast like loin or round; definitely NOT stewing meat), cut into strips or slices
  • 1 tbsp. of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. of cumin
  • about 1 c. of canned stewed or diced tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/3 c. of sliced jalapeños, depending on how hot you want the dish
  • 2 to 3 onions, sliced into rings
  • torn cilantro, to garnish


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the meat and cook over high heat until lightly browned.
  2. Add the garlic, oregano and cumin. Pour in the tomatoes.
  3. Add the jalapeños.
  4. Stir, taste and add some salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered until almost dry, about seven to 10 minutes (see notes at the end of the recipe). Taste. Add more salt, as needed.
  5. Add the sliced onion, toss, cook for another minute or so or just until the onion rings start to soften.
  6. Bistec picado
  7. Sprinkle with torn cilantro and serve with arroz blanco (white rice).

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Quick Notes

How long the cooking takes depends on the choice of meat. If the meat is not tender enough by the time the sauce is almost dry, add broth, half a cup at a time to lengthen the cooking time without burning the dish.

Quality of meat varies. Just because it says “loin” or “round” in the label doesn’t mean the meat will cook well in minutes. Some meat are tougher than others because they come from older animals. So, the cooking time, and the broth you may need to add, will probably need adjustments.

Connie VeneracionBistec picado
  • Odit

    I always thought that “bistek” is a corruption of “beefsteak.” As to “puto,” there is a Malayan (bihasa?) word, “putto,” which are steamed rice cakes.

  • Connie Veneracion

    “bistek” is a corruption of “beefsteak.”

    I thought so too. :)

    Re “putto”: I can’t seem to find any reference to “putto” except with regard to art.

    P.s. wouldn’t that be Bahasa? It’s spoken both in Malaysia and Indonesia, I believe.

  • shella

    hi ms connie,

    i think puto didn’t come from the spaniards but from the malaysians/indonesians. there’s a dish here in malaysia called putu mayam which is a steamed rice cake close to our puto maya, while in indonesia it’s called puto mayang.

    • Connie Veneracion

      wow, that’s very nice info. Thanks, Shella. :)

    • Jacky

      we also have putu piring, which are made of rice flour and are similar to puto. i guess these are the closest we have to Filipino puto here in Malaysia.

      • Connie Veneracion

        If you can recommend a good recipe, I’d like to make putu piring. :D Putu mayam looks to complicated to me. :-P

      • Jacky

        i’ve never actually made putu piring, most people just buy them from the vendors!

      • Connie Veneracion

        Oh, I see. Let me try Google. Maybe, there is a recipe out there somewhere. :)

  • JustMe

    I learned about your blog when I was looking for a good bistek recipe 3 years ago, and I have never stopped visiting your blog since.

    • Connie Veneracion

      Aaaww. Thanks. :)

  • Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef

    What a wonderful plate of food and no wonder it’s tops on the analytics report! It looks delicious.

  • Norine

    I cant forget when I first tried a Bistec dish here, a Spanish friend told me she is cooking Bistec for lunch, so I was like “really??? its my favorite “.. surprise..surprise.. instead of our usual calamansi/soy sauce marinade, she seasoned the beef with cumin and oregano. My kids prefer our pinoy bistek over the usual bistec in the Caribbean, but i have to use locally grown limes instead, the closest to our calamansi.

    • Connie Veneracion

      I guess it’s a matter of what you’re used to. Your kids may grow to like the Mexican version in time when they’ve had it more often.