Bistek Tagalog – Filipino Beef Steak

Bistek is a colloquialism for the word “beefsteak” and “Tagalog” is a reference to the Tagalog region in Southern Luzon, Philippines where bistek is believed to have originated.

The meat is marinated in the mixture of soy sauce and an acidic ingredient, like calamansi, lime, or lemon juice. The depth of flavor is dependent upon the length of time that the meat is marinated which ideally is overnight.

Growing up, I was excited to come home to the wonderful smells of this dish wafting in the air. The mixture of onions and beef served atop a hot mountain of rice always made my mouth water.

Bistek Tagalog


2 tbsp | 30 ml lemon juice
4 tbsp | 60 ml soy sauce
½ tsp | 2.4 g salt
1 tbsp | 15 g granulated sugar
½ cup | 118 ml water
1 ½ lbs | 0.54 kg steak
1 large onion
2 tbsp | 30 ml cooking oil
1 tsp | 4.9 g cornstarch


  1. Take partially frozen (1) steak and thinly slice it.
  2. Slice the onions into thin rings.
  3. Combine the steak slices, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and water into a gallon size resealable plastic bag.
  4. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least sixty minutes to allow the flavors to infuse into the steak.


  1. Heat oil in a 12″ non-stick pan on medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Sauté the onion rings in the oil until transparent (2) and set aside.
  3. Using the same pan where the onions were sautéed, fry the marinated beef sans the marinade until browned and set aside.
  4. Pour the marinade into the pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Put in the fried beef and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the beef is tender, adding water as needed.
  6. Add the sautéed onions to allow the floors to blend.
  7. Combine cornstarch with 2 tsp of warm water in a small cup to create a slurry.
  8. Add cornstarch slurry to the pan to help thicken the sauce.


  1. Serve the bistek over hot steamed rice.


  • To make it easier to slice the meat into consistent thickness, freeze the sirloin steak for about 45 minutes before slicing. (1)
  • Do not caramelize the onions as this will change the flavor of the dish. (2)