Bistek Tagalog (Filipino-style Beef Steak)

If there’s anything I miss as much as my family, it’s my mother’s cooking. Here’s a little trivia: when Roan and I were still dating, you know we were in a long distance relationship, right? One of the things he looks forward to sharing a meal with my family. In fact, it even came to a point where my mother cooks for him whenever he’s home.

When I moved here, I didn’t know how to cook. I can easily fry egg and bacons, yes, but that’s just about it. The downside of having my mom as Roan’s mother-in-law, however, is the pressure of making something that’s just as delicious as, if not any better than, Mom’s recipes.

I’ve been craving Mom’s version of Bistek Tagalog (Filipino-style Beef Steak), so I cried for help. I asked for Mom’s recipe, but for some reason, I may have deleted her message, so I made do with what I remembered from her instructions.

By the way, I’m posting a recipe today because Emily asked if I could share some of the dishes I make for both my husband and myself since we’re on our own. Well, here it is!

Bistek Tagalog Recipe by SCATTERBRAIN (

Bistek Tagalog (Filipino-style Beef Steak)
yields 4


  • 2 pounds beef steak or beef flaps, tenderized (optional)
  • ⅔ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons brown or white sugar (or 2 packs of Stevia)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Slice meat two inches wide. Now you have the option to pound the meat by using a meat tenderizer or simply use (with caution) the handle part of a knife. Put in a glass container, and add all ingredients except for onions and olive oil. You also have the option to season with ground pepper for an added “kick”. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Toss the onions in, and sauté until slightly tender. Be careful not to overcook the onions, though! Well, at least I like my onions still a bit crunchy. Remove from pan, and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining oil, and pan-fry marinated beef in batches, making sure that both sides are brown. If there isn’t enough space in the pan for all meat to be fried, I set the first ones aside until I’m done with everything.

3. Once all meat has been pan-fried, toss them again, and pour the rest of the marinade (sauce) into the pan. Bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for a few more minutes. This is the time to check whether the sauce is alright or it needs further adjustment. Add more soy sauce or lemon juice or water to adjust the taste, depending on your preference. Toss the onions back again, and serve.

P.S. It is best served with rice.

I know this recipe isn’t perfect, nor is it the “healthiest”, but this dish reminds me of home. A place of comfort and safety I so miss. What matters is that it turned out exactly the way I wanted, and that my husband thought it was just as delicious as Mom’s version. Let me know if you try it, too!

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