Bistek, Filipino Beef Steak

The Filipino version of steak is bistek. I used to think that bistek was a localized pronunciation and spelling of beef steak but it appears that bistec is found in the cuisines of countries that used to be Spanish colonies. Like our bistek, they are all pan fried and saucy beef.

In cooking Filipino bistek, it is ideal to use a tender cut of beef like top or bottom round, sirloin or tenderloin. For maximum flavor, the meat is first marinated before it is quickly pan fried just until cooked. Topped with lightly fried onion rings, smothered with the marinade and kalamansi juice, bistek is rich yet uncomplicated — the stuff that real comfort food is made of.

Recipe: Bistek: Filipino Beef Steak


  • 3/4 kg. of thinly sliced beef (top or bottom round, sirloin or tenderloin are ideal)
  • 1/4 c. of soy sauce (dark soy sauce is traditional)
  • 1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. of grated garlic
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 2 to 3 onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/8 c. of kalamansi juice
  • snipped scallions (onion leaves), to garnish


  1. Place the beef in a bowl. Pour in the soy sauce. Add the pepper and garlic. Mix well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat a large wok or frying pan. Coat the bottom generously with cooking oil.
  3. Drain the beef.
  4. When the oil is hot, throw in the beef and pan fry over very high heat just until the meat is cooked through. Do not overcook as beef turns tough and rubbery when overdone. Scoop the meat out of the pan and transfer to a serving platter.
  5. In the remaining oil and juices, cook the onion rings just until softened.
  6. Top the beef with the onion rings.
  7. Pour the kalamansi juice into the pan, scraping whatever bits and remaining juices there there.
  8. Pour the contents of the pan over the meat and onions. Sprinkle with snipped scallions and serve hot with rice.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

*Updated from a recipe originally published on April 28, 2003.