Best Filipino Bistek Recipe – Beef Tips with Caramelized Onions

This is a post about Bistek (abbreviated from the English word Beefsteak). It is an easy to make dish that has few ingredients. It was always one of my favorites growing up although we did not have beef a lot in those days because it costs more and we were a family of 6.

I made a slight variation to it to make it heatlhier. I added pan-fried tofu slices. This extends the 1 pound beef to feed 4 people and brings down  our meat consumption by half. The tofu blends easily with the sour and salty flavor of the dish

best filipino bistek recipe

A Bit Of History

Bistek  came from the Spanish word ‘Bistec’ which itself was derived from the English word ‘Beef Steak’. There was fusion food in the Philippines way before fusion cuisine became trendy.

Bistec Encebollado is a Spanish dish that consists of beef  and onions. The Filipino  version of this is called Bistek Tagalog which is strips of beef cooked in soy sauce (Chinese influence), calamansi juice, onions and garlic.

This  dish is very popular in the Southern Luzon area of the Philippines which is where I grew up.

Calamansi (a local Filipino citrus) is also called Calamondin and is a hybrid between the mandarin orange and kumquat. It is available in the Philippines and surrounding areas namely southern ChinaTaiwan and Borneo. It has a  potent sour taste so 3 small calamansi fruits equal 1 lemon.

This is my  best Filipino Bistek recipe.

Best Filipino Bistek Recipe

This is an easy beef and onions dish seasoned with soy sauce and  lemon juice. I added sliced tofu to make it healthier.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword best filipino bistek recipe, filipino cooking, healthy eating, easy filipino recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Maria


  • 1 lb beef sirloin sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or juice of 3 calamansi if available
  • 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper
  • 14 oz hard tofu sliced thinly about 1 cm thick
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 pc medium  onions sliced in rings
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Marinate beef in soy sauce and lemon, salt and pepper for at least 30 minutes
  2. Mix flour with salt and pepper (and garlic powder if preferred)
  3. Coat tofu slices in flour mixture being careful not to break the slices,
  4. Heat oil in pan and fry tofu slices until browned and crispy, about 4 minutes each side. Set it aside,

  5. Add 1 tbsp more oil and stir fry onions.  Set aside when browned.
  6. Add 1 tbsp oil and sear the beef slices
  7. Add the liquid used to marinate the beef

  8. Simmer for about 20 minutes in medium heat. Add 1/2 cup water if it is drying up

  9. Add back tofu slices and mix to coat it with sauce
  10. Serve with the caramelized onions on top

Recipe Notes

This is beef sirloin with caramelized onions. I added tofu for a healthier twist.

How to Serve:

This is traditionally served with white jasmine rice. To make it healthier, you can serve with cauliflower rice or quinoa or any of the whole grains like bulgur, wild rice, brown rice and barley.

It can be eaten with oven-roasted vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper and mushrooms.

For my list of  anticancer foods which include onions, cauliflower and other vegetables, click on this: Best Anticancer Foods

You can also serve it dry with a green salad. Or try this mango tomato salad.

Health benefits of This Dish:


Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all 8 amino acids. It is believed that soy protein can lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Due to its phytoestrogen content, many women add tofu to their diet when they reach menopause as it is said to help with menopause side effects.

For vegans or vegetarians, tofu is a major source of protein for their diet. However, if you are wary of taking too much phytoestrogen, find other sources of protein (like quinoa).


Onions are rich in antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer. They can also improve bone density and improve digestion. The red onions have more potent anticancer properties than the white or yellow ones. And I have to mention that onions are part of most savory dish recipes together with garlic.


Lemons are loaded with Vitamin C which may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and may lower blood pressure.

The juice of lemons mixed with water supports weight loss, improves insulin resistance and aids digestion. Lemons may also prevent the formation of kidney stones.

When eating out or even at home, try to consume lemon water instead of sodas or sugary juice.

What do You Think?

This is a hearty beef dish and it is easy to prepare. I hope you will try it for weeknight dinners or even family gatherings. You can use as much onions as you want and you can caramelize it more to suit your taste.

The tofu can be removed and replaced with musrhooms,  Or removed altogether for a traditional beef and onions bistek. The choice is yours.

Kain Na! (Let’s Eat).

No information on this post is meant to serve as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.






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