Using bone-in ribeye makes this our fanciest bistek Tagalog recipe yet. Save it for a date, a big celebration, or for when you want to treat yourself. Ribeye has excellent fat-to-meat marbling, which helps it cook into a juicy, beefy steak.
And if you’ve never cooked steak before, don’t worry: you’re looking at a beginner-friendly recipe with minimal fuss. It covers the basics, bastes it in butter, and tops it off with soft, sweet onions and a soy-calamansi bistek pan sauce.
Dry your steak
A well-cooked steak has a browned, crusty exterior with (if you like it medium rare!) a juicy pink middle. To get that beautiful brown crust, your steak needs to be as dry as possible.
Water is the enemy of a good crust. When a moist steak hits the hot pan, it won’t sear and form a crust—the excess moisture steams the steak instead. By the time all the water evaporates to begin searing, your steak will have overcooked into a leather shoe.
Before cooking, make sure to pat your steak dry with paper towels. If you have the time to think ahead, season your steak on all sides, then let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours up to two days.
Cook your steak in carbon steel or cast-iron
These materials retain heat well, preventing temperatures from dipping when the steak hits the pan. DO NOT use a nonstick pan. The high heat required to sear a steak will degrade the nonstick surface!
Baste your steak in butter for maximum flavor
Once the steak has formed its first crust, we flip it and add butter to the pan. The butter melts, slowly caramelizing while it combines with the pan juices. Use a spoon to bathe your steak in all that hot, delicious fat. This adds an extra layer of flavor as the steak gently cooks.
Use an instant-read thermometer to read doneness
Poking your steak will make you feel like a pro, sure. But not everyone is going to want to touch a hot, butter-basted steak with their bare fingertips.
In this case, an instant-read thermometer is your friend. It will reliably tell you when your steak is medium rare (130°F). If you like it rare, aim for 120°F; for medium, go 140°F.
If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, follow the timing in our recipe. It’s always better to undercook your steak; you can fix it with another round on the stove, no shame. Overcooked steak is another story!
- 400-500g ribeye steak, 1-inch thick
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 white onions, sliced into rings
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup calamansi juice
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
Prep steak: Pat steak dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
Sear steak: Preheat stainless steel, carbon steel, or cast-iron skillet over high heat. You should see small wisps of smoke emerging from the pan. Add about 1 tbsp of neutral oil to the hot skillet, then allow the oil to heat up until just smoking. Add seasoned steak and cook undisturbed until a brown crust forms on the underside, about 2–3 minutes.
Baste with butter: Flip steak, then add butter to the pan. Once melted, lift the skillet slightly to tip it on one side, collecting the butter into a pool. Use a spoon to pour butter over the steak. If the butter starts to burn, reduce heat to medium. Keep basting the steak until it cooks to medium-rare, about 2–3 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak registers 120–125°F.
Rest steak: Transfer cooked steak to a wire rack or chopping board. Pour about half of the pan juices over the steak; save about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. Let steak rest for 5–10 minutes.
Make bistek sauce: While the steak rests, heat pan with remaining fat over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft but slightly crunchy. Add soy sauce, calamansi juice, brown sugar, and black pepper to the pan. Bring sauce to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, and reduce until 5–8 minutes.
Serve: Slice steak against the grain into ½- to ¾-inch thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to a plate, then top with cooked onions and bistek sauce. Serve immediately.