although the philippines and guam are generally considered asian or pacific/asian countries, you could definitely argue that with the acapulco-manila galleon trade of the 16th-19th centuries and early spanish rule, much of our respective cultures are more in keeping with latin america than most of southeast asia.

bistek--which means "beef steak"--is the filipino/chamoru equivalent of a beef dish called bistec commonly found throughout hispanic and latino countries. it is, in fact, the pacific cousin to bistec encebollado, or steak with onions. it is quite literally just that: grilled or pan-fried beef fillets marinated in a soy sauce and citrus marinade with just a hint of garlic, with rings of sautéed onions.

i'm not sure what the actual difference between the filipino and chamoru versions is, if there is one at all. the recipe i grew up with uses calamansi (or kalamansi if you like) juice as the souring agent. it also acts as a meat tenderizer, so it is not necessary to use the best cuts of beef for this--although i have generally seen sirloin and tenderloin (eye steak) used, this is a good way to use tougher cuts like flank and round. however, should you find yourself with a dozen defrosted rib eyes and new york strips because someone inadvertently unplugged the fridge overnight, don't hesitate to use them. in fact, don't hesitate to use them.

this is a fairly easy recipe, but it does require that you generally know how to cook a piece of meat. i can cook a tender cut of steak, but i'm flummoxed with a flank. my mother, however, can make the leanest cuts as soft as butter, so adapt this recipe accordingly. ideally you should end up with tender meat and meltingly soft onions in not-too-salty-not-too-sour meaty gravy. but you know what? if you eff it up, it's still going to be pretty good, so don't worry about it and try it again another time.


2-lbs of beef steaks of your choice, whatever you're comfortable with using
1 cup of soy sauce (important note: if all you have is kikkoman original brand or something as strong, use less--anywhere from 1/4th to 1/2 cup less because it is a little harsh for this recipe. i use aloha shoyu, which i find is sweeter and milder, but try a lower sodium brand or even tamari if you can't find an equivalent)
1/2-3/4th cup of calamansi juice, or any sour citrus juice--use more or less to your taste
2 large onions, cut into rings
2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
olive oil

marinate the meat in the soy sauce and calamansi juice for a minimum of four hours--overnight is better. depending on your cut of beef, two nights might be best, but that's sort of pushing it. fry or grill in a large, smokin' hot pan or skillet on high heat until medium rare to medium (it will continue to cook for a few minutes after taken from heat). remove from pan, set aside. lower the heat to medium high, add a couple tablespoonfuls of olive oil to the pan, then the garlic and onions. sautée until at least translucent--my family prefers them to be caramelized, which takes much longer but has a sweeter result. add beef and any meat juices back into pan; if it's relatively dry, add some of the marinade and/or water, turn heat down, simmer for a few minutes. serve with a bucket of rice or potatoes.


That looks soooo good!!

hey drea, how are you? did i see a photo of dan hipolito on your blog? he's a butcher, ask him what a good cut of meat would be :)


you got me at calamansi; never tried cooking beef with citrus before.

we use miso to tenderise cheap cuts, but it tends to overpower.

ooh. how long would you marinate in miso? do you mix it with anything?

beef with lemon seems like an odd combo, but it works. i usually have a problem with soy sauce overwhelming this dish, but eh. that's what the bucket of rice is for.

Miso and ginger is our favourite combo. And a splash of soya sauce or worcestershire sauce for even more salt. Seems to work if you marinate it for anytime between 2h (lack of planning) to overnight (fits with lifestyle).

And I'd like to see photographic evidence of the bucket of rice/potato. I have an image of Richard Dreyfuss in my head now...

That bistek looks fabulous. My mom used to make it when we were kids and it was always a treat! What carnivores we were hehe

I wish I could get real kalamansi juice in Europe - I fell in love with kalamansi in Malaysia (the iced tea in Penang is made with kalamansi, yum) and I had bottled sweetened kalamansi juice as a drink in KL... this looks absolutely delicious and I will find a way to prepare it without kalamansi.

akatsukira, i think of richard dreyfuss actually wearing a bucket on his head in his portrayal of richard the third in "the goodbye girl"....

hi lou! omg, totally carnivorous as a child! it has been a long time since this was last made in our house, it might be awhile before it's made again.

hello petra! ice tea with kalamansi is the best! in the philippines some of the nicer places would put the cut fruit in a little bit of netting so the seeds wouldn't end up in your glass as well. i haven't seen that in awhile.....

you can try a mix of lemon and lime. i would also experiment with sour oranges if they are available. i don't know how well stocked asian groceries are in europe, but maybe if you're lucky you can find a powdered version? some of them are very good. and some of them are very cute :)

note to jack: hi! i accidentally deleted your comment, sorry. mom is fine, patrick's fine. you should write him sometime!

*drool* doll, *drool*!

These bistek(beef steak) looks truly succulent. I would love to have some of these. ooooooooh! My mouth is watering. I an going to try it next weekend. Thanks for the recipe.


my site

Hi Santos,

Love your blog, I live in Cairns in tropical Australia and it's hard to find blogs from the tropical zone. Do you have any favorite tropical food blogs, couldn't see any links? I"m looking to connect with fellow cooks and home gardeners from the tropical zones of the world.
If you want to check my blog out I'm at




hi clare! what a lovely blog you have. i don't like papaya, but i'm intrigued by your papya, sweet potato and passionfruit salad, it sounds like a good combination.

i have a list of blogs from asian women, categorized by what country they reside. it is only partially updated, but it might help you!

Brilliant, thanks Santos I'll check out the list,