Filipino Bistek – Beef Marinated in Soy Sauce and Kumquat Juice

Bistek, derived from the Spanish word bistec meaning beef steak, is a Filipino dish my mom typically made on the weekends. She would thinly slice a lean piece of beef and then marinate overnight with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, black pepper and calamansi, a citrus fruit indigenous to the Philippines. Since calamansi is hard to come by, I used the juice from a few kumquats I had left over from my kumquat pomegranate cocktail. The sour fruit acts as a meat tenderizer along with adding a hint of citrus flavor.

I actually got the idea to make this dish on a recent visit to my friend Diana’s apartment where she made us a similar beef recipe for her upcoming cookbook. The major difference in my recipe is the addition of citrus juice and the long marinade. If you don’t have kumquats, any kind of sour citrus fruit like lemon or lime would work fine. And taste the marinade to make sure it’s not too sour for you. For the beef, I used NY strip but flank, sirloin and other cuts work too.

Prepare your kumquat juice and slice the onion and set aside.

Marinate the beef strips with soy sauce, kumquat juice, garlic and black pepper.

Cook beef until medium-rare, or desired temperature, and set aside.

Cook onions until almost caramelized, then add the marinade. Cook sauce for about 5 minutes.

Serve beef strips, onions and sauce over steamed rice.

Filipino Bistek Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound beef, thinly sliced (NY strip, flank or sirloin)
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons kumquat juice (or calamansi, lemon or lime)
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoonblack pepper
  • 1 small onion, sliced

    Add sliced beef to a bowl and marinate soy sauce, kumquat juice, garlic and black pepper for about 3 hours. Most recipes marinate for longer or overnight for an even tender texture.

    Heat a large pan on high with olive oil. Add beef strips and cook for a few seconds on each side, until medium rare, or until desired cooking temperature. Remove beef from pan and set aside on a plate. Lower heat to medium-high and add onion slices to the pan drippings. Cook onions until almost caramelized, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the beef marinade back into the pan with the onions and simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Serve beef strips, onions and sauce over steamed rice.

    Total Time: 15-20 minutes (plus 3 hours for marinade)
    Yield: makes 4 servings
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    1. says

      This is one of my all-time favorites. This is one of those dishes–and there aren’t many–that I can eat everyday and not tire of it and the more citrusy, the better! My poor calamansi tree struggles in my yard and I don’t know what to do about it. Now I’m inspired to use kumquats the next time I make bistek. Yours looks fab!

    2. says

      Thanks Diana! I haven’t had it with fresh calamansi in a long time so I can’t even compare it anymore. I’ll have to do more research on where to find some!

      Jean, I’m so jealous you have a calamansi tree in your yard! Yes, I love this dish too, it’ll never get old! Thanks for the nice comment 🙂

    3. says

      SARAP! And your pictures are sooooo nice. I am going to drool all over my keyboard now. 🙂

      I am trying to learn all the Filipino dishes now before I migrate to another country.

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