How to Cook the Best Bistek Tagalog- One of the Most Popular Filipino Dishes

We cannot deny that Filipinos are very creative and resourceful in many ways, especially in the kitchen. They always show their homegrown talents in recreating recipes, making different variations catering to every individual’s needs and food preference.

This very flavorful featured dish is a classic Filipino stew, also known as beef steak. It is served from the most expensive restaurants to the most affordable local roadside eateries all over the Philippines. Although this dish can usually be bought at these diners, it is still ideal that you know how to make it so that you can have it right away with fewer expenses, less hassle, and assured quality anytime you crave and desire it.

bistek with white onions
(Photo Credit to: foxyfolksy)

For that reason, we will give you a brief background about our recipe version of beef steak and will show you how to make it as easy and as trouble-free as possible. We hope you enjoy cooking this, and please be sure to share it with your family and friends!

What Is Best Bistek Tagalog

This dish is a Filipino version of beef steak inspired by a Spanish recipe, “Bistec encebollado.” It is made from thinly sliced beef, onion, garlic, and soy sauce. The flesh is typically marinated for at least an hour with calamansi juice, pepper and soy sauce, or liquid seasoning.

The marinade may vary because some people use salt in their recipes while others don’t. But most people usually include salt in their marinade because it helps to tenderize and moisturize the raw flesh.

bistek ingredients: beef onions oil calamansi soy sauce
(Photo Credit to: bitemybun)

Also, the length of the marinating time is an essential factor in cooking this particular food. The suggested period to marinate thin slices of beef is around 20 to 30 minutes only. It is because the acid from calamansi juice or other citrus fruits might denature the meat’s protein if you marinate it for too long.

marinated beef in a bowl
(Photo Credit to: Gutom Girl)

To successfully create this dish, you have to allot a serious and enough time for marinating because it is the primary process and the heart of cooking this special Filipino recipe.

Ways To Cook Bistek Recipes

Eating our Filipino version of beef steak during lunch or dinner is such a great thing. But before that, you have to know how to cook it. You can use any of the various ways that we have listed below.

calamansi, strip onions, and beef
Photo Credits to: Meyer Lemon

Through Grilling

Grilling the flesh before boiling it with the broth is another way to tenderize the meat in your beef steak recipes. You only have to marinate the flesh with the condiments like soy sauce, calamansi or lemon juice, garlic, and ground pepper. Then prepare the grill and charcoals. Put the marinated meat on the grill rack over low to medium heat and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the side turns golden brown. Flip it and do the same for the other side. Then transfer them to a cutting board, but wait for at least 5 minutes before slicing the grilled finished product.

For the sauce of your recipes, heat oil in a pan and saute the garlic and onion until golden brown. Add the sliced meat and cook for two minutes. Then add the salt, pepper, soy sauce, and water. Let it boil. Add sugar to taste and boil the mixture again. Transfer it to another container, and be sure to serve it immediately.

Through Slow Cooker

This cooking device is very advisable to use when cooking steak recipes, most importantly, if you want to make the flesh to release its natural flavor and you happen to be not in a hurry. Slow cooking enables the raw meat to absorb the spices and seasonings, slowly making the finished bistek taste very flavorful and tender.

You only have to put the beef with garlic and soy sauce inside the appliance and set the timer to 4 hours. Several minutes before you finish it, make sure to sprinkle ground pepper, salt to taste, and lemon or calamansi juice. Then wait until the timer finishes and serve your dish while still hot.

Through Pressure Cooker

If you suddenly crave this dish and want to consume it as soon as possible, you can try using the pressure cooker. This electrical kitchen tool tenderizes the raw flesh in a shorter span but still lets it preserve its juiciness and natural flavor while absorbing the condiments and seasonings. It is also advisable to use this appliance when using larger cuts because it breaks down the meat’s large fiber making it taste slow-cooked.

In utilizing this device, you have to use the cooker’s saute function, add oil, and let the flesh turn brown. If your pressure cooker does not have this function, you can try stovetop cooking in low to medium heat. Add the spices, seasonings, and water and set the time to 20 minutes per pound of meat used. After the time, release the pressure and serve the finished dish while still hot.

Through Instant Pot

This electric kitchen tool is merely the combination and newer version of the slow cooker and pressure cooker. To use this, you only have to season the raw flesh with certain spices like ground pepper, salt, and garlic; put them in the instant pot and set on saute function. Add beef broth and then cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. After the set time finishes, perform a quick release and then serve immediately.


Cooking Bistek is simple and requires only a few and simple ingredients. You do not need to be a great chef or cook to do this particular recipe. Just follow some of the tips we have listed below to help you cook this dish.

  1. It’s better to select the tenderloin part in choosing the beef though it is quite expensive. This part doesn’t have too many fats, but if you want a cheaper one, choose the Sirloin part because it has a delicate and firm texture.
  2. Traditionally, calamansi juice is used in marinating, but if you want a more juicy taste, lime juice or lemon mix can substitute instead of calamansi juice.
  3. Red onion is commonly used in this dish’s recipes, but white onions may also be an alternative, depending on your preference.

Variations Of Bistek Recipes

Since Filipinos are undeniably masters inside the kitchen, they can create variations of different recipes without compromising the food’s delicious taste. And sometimes, they can even improve the flavor of the dish. 

Listed below are the recreated versions of our featured recipe that are all equally savory and mouth-watering.

Recipes Using Pork

If you want to experience the juiciness of this featured dish, but you’re on a tight budget, you can still enjoy this savory recipe. You only have to adjust your main ingredient-from beef to pork; then you are good to go!

Recipes Using Chicken

You can also use chicken to make this recipe variation. Aside from being a lot less inexpensive and healthier than beef, this variation cooks faster, too, as chicken flesh tenderizes quicker. Your kids will indeed love this variation!

Recipes Using Fish

Using fish instead of beef in recreating this recipe is another variation that adds a unique twist to it. This variation is effortless to prepare but still very flavorful and delicious. You can use different types of fish, like Bangus (milkfish), tanigue, and tilapia.

For you to make this variation, the fish is usually pan-fried first to ensure that it will not disintegrate while being boiled with the soy sauce, water, and other spices (calamansi or lemon juice, onions, garlic, ground pepper).

Liver Bistek

If you want a twist to our featured recipe, you may opt to use pork liver instead of beef. You only have to follow the initial steps and procedures, and you’re good to go. But be mindful of the cooking time as the pork liver softens fast. This variation is equally delicious as the other and will surely make you ask for more cups of rice.


If you are very concerned about your health and prefer your foods to be vegan style, we got you covered. You only have to follow our original recipe, but change the main ingredient to mushrooms, potatoes, and tofu. This way, you can savor this flavorful and delicious dish, staying vegetarian and not hurting your healthy diet. Remember to share this recipe variation with your vegan friends, too.

Other Recipes/Dishes Perfect to Serve with

Recipes like our featured dish are so simple and tasty that it goes well with many different types of food and drinks. We have listed down some of them that you can try for yourself. Read on!

  • Hot Steamed Rice-  needless to say, that this goes with almost any kind of viands, but our saucy and flavorful recipe with steamed and bland rice can make a perfect dining experience.
  • Mashed Potatoes- just like rice, contains carbohydrates and has a bland taste that can serve as a canvas for our cooked dish to paint a beautiful and mouth-watering meal. Pour your saucy dish on your mashed potato and eat it with slices of beef. Yummy, isn’t it?
  • Onion Rings – let us say you bought too many white onions for your preparation, and you only needed a few; what could you do to the excess? Why not make Breaded Onion Rings? It will go well with your finished dish, for sure. Try it!
  • Cucumber – a crispy bite of cucumber’s slightly bland taste is indeed a perfect partner to our dish. You can have it as an Ensalada seasoned with vinegar, garlic and ground black pepper, but you can also eat it as it is. Either way, this garden vegetable will surely refresh you after finishing a hearty meal. 
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs- Sure, Bistek is one of our mouth-watering recipes that will make you ask for more cups of rice, but we know it isn’t ideal. Thus, we thought of including this possible perfect partner for your dish. Hard-boiled eggs have high protein content, reducing your appetite, and as a result, making you feel fuller faster.
  • Juice – any ice-cold juice, especially lemon or cucumber juice, is such a logical choice of drink to partner with this excellent dish. After having a heavy meal with much oil and umami in your mouth, let’s finish it with a refreshing juice.
  • Tea – if you believe that cold drinks make the food sit in your tummy for a more extended period, try having a hot cup of tea, which is supposed to be soothing and preventing stomach upset.
  • Wine – eat Bistek, just like how the rich people do it, and that is with a glass of wine. The almost bitter-sweet wine is perfect for salty-sour recipes like this dish. 
  • Leche FLan–  sure, you will have a great meal with these types of recipes eaten with something sweet, so it’s just right that you will have a great dessert, and the first perfect choice is Leche Flan. With its creaminess and sweetness, the dizziness you feel after overeating will go away.
  • Sweetened Saba Banana – just like Leche Flan, this sweet course is another excellent dessert choice to end your hearty meal. After that savory, oily, salty, and sour meal, a small bowl of sweetened Saba Banana can round out your lunch or dinner treat.


We intended to give you insights about our dish and for you to cook it as smoothly as possible through this article. We hope that you learned a thing or two from us today. 

And now, get your tummy ready with this very delicious and luscious Filipino cuisine that is so mouth-watering, tasty, and perfect with several cups of rice. Yes, you read it right, “cups” because it will surely ruin your diet!

Be sure to share this with your family loved ones. Happy eating!

For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

tasty beef steak with white onions
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5 from 2 votes

Superb Bistek Tagalog Recipe

It is one of the most delicious Filipino recipes made of thin slices of beef marinated in soy sauce with lemon and onions. This dish is perfect with plain, hot rice!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Best Bistek Tagalog, Bistek Tagalog, How to cook the best Bistek Tagalog
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4 Persons
Calories 427kcal
Author Eat Like Pinoy
Cost $5-$20


  • 2 lbs Beef Sirloin Thinly Sliced
  • 5 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 8 Pieces Calamansi or 1 piece Lemon extracted
  • 1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 3 Pieces White Onion Sliced into rings
  • 4 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Pinch Salt


  • Smash the meat so it will be cooked fast.
  • In a bowl, mix together the beef, soy sauce, calamansi or lemon, ground black pepper. Then, transfer into a resealable bag.
  • Marinate the mixture for at least 1 hour.
    Tip: Do overnight marination for best result.
  • Heat oil in a pan then pan-fry half of the onions until softened. Set aside.
  • Take the beef out of the resealable bag then set aside the marinade. Use the same pan to pan-fry the beef. Then set aside.
  • Saute garlic and remaining onions until onions softened.
  • Pour the marinade and add water. Then bring it to a boil.
  • Put in beef and simmer until meat is tender.
    Tip: Add water if needed.
  • Sprinkle with ground black pepper and salt as needed. Top it with pan-fried onions.
  • Use a serving plate. Serve while hot. Share and Enjoy!


Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1406mg | Potassium: 886mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4mg
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