Bistek in 10 minutes

Just like adobo, bistek, or Filipino beef steak, is one of my family’s comfort foods and favorites and no one complains if I cook it more than once a week. The best bistek is made with thin slices of a prime cut of beef (tenderloin, sirloin, top round or bottom round), marinated in a mixture of kamalansi juice and soy sauce, pan-fried and garnished with onion slices. Simple enough if you get good quality meat. And there’s the rub right there. It’s just so hard to get good quality meat these days with market vendors often passing off carabao meat as beef. Even if sliced paper thin (and market vendors often do a haphazard job of cutting meat thinly), carabao meat will still turn out tough as the sole of a leather boot unless cooked for hours and hours.

So what I do these days is use supermarket-bought sukiyaki cut meat for my bistek. Sliced very thinly (the meat is chilled then machine-sliced), you can see right away from the color of the meat and the density of the fat if it’s real beef. And I made a wonderful discovery last Saturday. In Unimart, they sell sukiyaki-cut beef, pork, and lamb. I bought a tray of each, imagining all the dishes that I’d make with them, and happy in the knowledge that cooking for the next several days would only take a short time because sukiyaki-cut meat cooks in minutes.

The recipe is no different (get the bistek recipe) except that you can skip the marinating part. And because the beef will brown in just a few minutes, the cooking time is short. If you’re serving bistek for breakfast, you can serve it with pan de sal (yes, bistek makes a great sandwich filling!) or with rice and egg.

Whole wheat tortillas with pork adobo filling

It is Linggo ng Wika (National Language Week) in the Philippines and, as part of the school celebration, my daughter Alex brought pork adobo for their class potluck lunch. To save myself the trouble of cooking an extra dish, I just cooked a large pot of adobo for our breakfast and lunch at home, and for the potluck too. The thing is, I was seeing too much adobo and there was this itch to do something else with it. So, for breakfast, I heated some whole wheat flour tortillas in a pan and filled them with shredded pork adobo, sliced onion, onion leaves, and toasted garlic bits.

Using two forks, pull the pork meat apart to create shreds. Cut the onion leaves into two-inch lengths. Or shorter, if you prefer. You can even slice them finely. Slice the onion. Thinly, if you like; not too thinly, if you want bold texture. Have all the ingredients for the filling ready before you reheat the tortillas.