Thursday, November 5, 2009

Imbaligtad (Beef Stir-Fried of Northern Philippines)

“Imbaligtad” is a popular dish of the Northern Philippines, particularly that of the Ilocos Region. When I was in Cagayan, a neighboring province to the east, I was not surprised to be served with the same dish. In its basic form, “imbaligtad” is prepared from beef cut up to very tiny pieces then quickly stir-fried in ginger and onion and then finished off by the addition of small amount of vinegar and salt. For the variation, others also use garlic while some, including me, usually add up ground pepper and/or chili for some kick.

“Imbaligtad” is cooked very fast, not more than 5 minutes all in all, and should be done in small batches to attain the searing the meat pieces need over that short period of time frying. It is basically served half-cooked, considered done after just a few stirring in the hot pan from the moment the beef was added.

Modern “imbaligtad” served in some fancy restaurants now has snow peas, slices of potatoes and creamy liver sauce, which all add depth to the simple dish making it a little special. Every time I cook this dish though, with guidance and assistance from colleagues who came from the region, we always stick to the simple but more authentic version popularized by the common people of Ilocos (Philippines).

The dish only requires a few basic ingredients. Of course, it starts with very fresh beef, about 300 grams. Tenderloin or sirloin is of course best but even ordinary cuts with no visible tendons are quite good. The secret to making the meat tender is the short period frying. For as long as the amount of time spent in cooking is controlled to not more than 5 minutes all in all, the meat will come out tender and juicy.

The other ingredients are: 1 thumb-sized ginger, a bunch of shallots or fresh onions called “lasuna” in Ilocos, 1 tsp salt or to taste, ½ tsp ground pepper and 1 tbsp white vinegar and about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.

Slice the beef to small pieces with the cutting done across the grain of the meat. Peel and cut the ginger to strips (julienned). Mince the fresh onion. Reserve some of the onion leaves for garnish.

In a pan or wok, heat the oil and fry the ginger, followed by the onion. Add in the salt and ground pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Add the beef and continue stir-frying on medium heat for some 3 minutes or until the meat is half cooked.

Add the vinegar and wait for the liquid to boil. Quickly stir-fry again and turn off the heat.

Transfer to a medium plate and garnish with minced onion leaves on top. Serve immediately.

This dish is a good appetizer or bites over your favorite drinks. It’s easy but truly tasty and juicy. Enjoy! c “,)


  1. this is one of the original recipe of the Ilocos. Makapatilmon!


  2. hi jfilac, thank you, yes it is among the wonderful original recipes of Ilocos.... now I have a craving for the dish..... got to make this soon..... real soon! :-)



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