This week I made bistek (the word is a “Filipinized” portmanteau of “beef steak”). It’s a dish cooked by marinating thin cuts of beef in soy sauce and lemon.
Tip: If you happen to have an Asian store near you, try to get calamansi instead of lemon. This is also a citrus fruit, but it’s much tinier (probably the size of a cherry tomato) and round, green on the outside, yellow on the inside. It’s got a stronger, more sour citrus flavor with a hint of sweetness.
This version adds a teriyaki flavor by adding sugar. It also features lots of onion–I use sweet yellow onions because every other kind is too overpowering for my taste.
The recipe calls for sesame oil, and because the sesame oil I have at home is mildly spicy, my bistek dish had a little kick. Add the brightness of the citrus, and it was a more complex dish than I expected. Really yummy!
Interestingly, I never used to like bistek much as a kid. I don’t think I was a huge fan of beef in general, and like I said, the onions could get overpowering. I’m glad I rediscovered this dish though. I really quite like it now, and it’s pretty similar to adobo both in flavor and in the sense that it doesn’t require a lot of active cooking time.
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