Bistek tagalog (Filipino beef steak) with charred sawsawan red onions

Our reinvented version of Filipino beef steak is a colourful dish bursting with robust and punchy flavours.
Bistek tagalog recipe of Cured beef with charred sawsawan red onions.Ben Dearnley
4 - 6

Bistek tagalog is thinly sliced cured beef. GT‘s senior food editor Dominic Smith recalls how his Filipino mother Lola would serve it with sawsawan, a dip made with vinegar, garlic, and onion. “Each family has their own version,” says Smith. The charred tortillas are an ode to Lola’s savoury riff on playa, a sweet Filipino flat bread.


Bistek tagalog cure
Charred sawsawan red onions


1.For bistek tagalog cure, place ingredients except beef in a large container and mix to combine. Add beef and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate to cure for 8 hours or overnight. The longer you leave it the saltier and more intense the flavours will be. Wipe excess cure from beef and bring to room temperature; discard cure.
2.Preheat a lightly greased barbecue or char-grill pan to high heat. For sawsawan, barbecue onions, cut-side down until blackened (10-12 minutes); set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine; add onions. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
3.Drizzle beef with lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil; barbecue, turning frequently, until charred all over and cooked to rare (8-10 minutes); rest 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
4.To serve, place sliced beef in a large bowl with a little of the sawsawan dressing and toss to combine. Layer on a serving platter with slices of apple and grapefruit segments. Scatter with charred sawsawan red onions, pickled green chillies, watercress and sorrel, then drizzle with lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with charred tortillas on the side.

Redlove apples are available from select greengrocers. If unavailable, substitute Granny Smith apples.


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