Salisbury Bistek: Filipino-style Salisbury Steak with Calamansi and Onion Gravy

Salisbury Bistek

Growing up with parents that worked odd hours, my brothers and I were often left to fend for ourselves when it came to dinner time.  Which, more often than not, meant that we raided the freezer for its bounty of frozen TV dinners. Although my grandfather lived with us at the time, he served mostly as warden rather than cook–he was responsible for making sure my brothers and I didn’t kill each other while my parents were away, which was a tough enough task considering that we were all skilled in hand-to-hand combat thanks to repeated watchings of Sidekicks:

TV Dinners, and Ernie Reyes Jr. on TV.
The 80’s were awesome.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, frozen dinners. While there was usually a decent selection from the freezer of my youth (like say, teriyaki chicken, pot roast, and even turkey and gravy), to me, the best of the best was Salisbury Steak with peas and mashed potatoes. If any of my brothers got to the frozen Salisbury Steak before I did, there would surely be attempts at reverse crescent kicks to the ear a la Ernie Reyes Jr.–which usually just meant that I would land awkwardly on my tailbone and have to settle for frozen meatloaf. Hmmph, Sidekicks my ass.

But now that I’m grown, I can make my own Salisbury Steak! From scratch no less! My version of Salisbury Steak is a mashup of that old school frozen dinner from my youth with Filipino Bistek Tagalog. It’s like if Ernie Reyes Jr. axe kicked a cow while a calamansi lime was stuck on the bottom of his karate shoes. The result? Salisbury Bistek.

Much like a traditional Filipino Bistek, my Salisbury Bistek features beef smothered in a savory and tangy sauce comprised of caramelized onions, soy sauce, and calamansi lime juice of course.

Filipino Calamansi Limes

Filipino Calamansi Limes

Unlike a traditional Filipino Bistek, however, this version utilizes ground beef patties in lieu of actual “steak”–that’s where the Salisbury part comes into play. Here, the ground beef patties are seasoned with salt and pepper, a splash of fish sauce, and flecks of minced garlic. It’s a simple enough switcheroo, but one that makes for a quick and easy weeknight meal that you should be happy to share, or fight over, depending on whom you live with.

Salisbury Bistek (Filipino Salisbury Steak)

Salisbury Bistek and Rice

Salisbury Bistek: Filipino-style Salisbury Steak with Calamansi and Onion Gravy

Serving Size: Serves 4-6


    For the "Steak" Patties
  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh calamansi juice, or fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup beef stock, or water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, for garnish


    For the "Steak" Patties
  1. Add all the ingredients for the steak patties to a medium bowl, then gently mix with your hands until just combined.
  2. Form 4-6 oblong patties from the meat mixture, each patty about 1/4-inch thick. Set patties aside.
  3. For the Sauce
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.
  5. Add the onions to the pan, and cook until softened and lightly browned, stirring often, 4-6 minutes.
  6. Transfer the onions to a large plate and set aside
  7. Add the last 1 tablespoon of oil to the same pan.
  8. Working in batches, cook the beef patties in the pan until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
  9. Transfer the patties to the same plate as the onions and set aside.
  10. Pour the white wine into the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook for 2-3 minute more.
  11. Combine the soy sauce, calamansi juice, beef stock, cornstarch, and brown sugar in a small bowl, then pour contents into pan.
  12. Increase the heat to high, and bring the liquid in the pan to a boil. Continue to cook until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.
  13. Taste the sauce. If it is too sour, add more water, and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  14. Reduce heat to low, then return the onions and beef patties to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated in the plate.
  15. Cover the pan, and simmer for 3-5 minutes more until the patties are cooked through.
  16. Serve steaks and sauce with steamed rice. Garnish with parsley.

More Bistek Recipes:

  • Nichole Mangum May 5, 2014, 5:16 am

    Mike Villamil since you like Salisbury steak.

  • Nichole Mangum May 5, 2014, 5:16 am

    Mike Villamil since you like Salisbury steak.

  • Nichole Mangum May 5, 2014, 5:16 am

    Mike Villamil since you like Salisbury steak.

  • Kris P May 12, 2014, 2:38 pm

    Nice one, M! This is a mash-up of the two more favored comfort foods of my youth: One Filipino; one suburban American, both typically satisfying. Just to carry on with the sibling theme, I shared your recipe with my brother (We both cooked. My sis didn’t.) and almost instantly we got into an argument over I’M about the recipe. He insists true Salisbury steak includes a cereal extender (In this case, he offers stale pan de sal); I don’t. The result? We’re having a throwdown at my mom’s house to see whose version reigns supreme.

  • Burnt Lumpia May 12, 2014, 4:31 pm

    @Kris P Thanks! For extenders, pan de sal is a great idea, but your brother could also use crumbled sky flakes, or even leftover rice!

  • Hans October 29, 2014, 2:06 am

    The clip from Sidekick made my day haha. It caught me off-guard as I wasn’t expecting that at all!
    Bistek is one of my most favorite “ulam”! As if it wasn’t good enough,using a juicy, well seasoned Salisbury steak being used for it never crossed my mind! I am drooling for this dish, my wife must see this immediately!


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