Friday, June 4, 2010

Beef Salpicao (Beef Stir Fried in Garlic and Oyster Sauce)

"Beef Salpicao" is a Filipino dish made from tenderloin cubes that are quick-fried with garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and/or oyster sauce. It is like steak “a la pobre” only the beef is cut into small bite sizes and rapidly stir fried in a steel wok over very high heat. The idea is to sear the tender meat, lock the juice inside and infuse it with garlic flavor and the combined taste of several liquid seasonings. Stir frying only takes several minutes so the meat is basically cooked rare to medium rare for it to remain juicy and succulent. Over cooking will unnecessarily result to a dry and tough meat even when using the loin cuts of beef such as tenderloin or sirloin.

Surprisingly, there are so many variations of the dish. I have first tasted it in one restaurant in the Ilocos Region of northern Philippines and instantly bitten by its wonderful taste. I never had the chance to return to the same restaurant again nor encounter any restaurant that could at least equal the type of “salpicao” being served there. I keep on trying the dish offered in many other restaurants in Manila and elsewhere but could not really find the kind that caught my taste buds in Ilocos. Other versions are either not as tasty or not as juicy.

As a result of such frustration, I have been in pursuit of preparing my own version hoping that I could create one that will truly satisfy my taste and cravings. Whilst the dish only requires a few select ingredients and a relatively short period of quick frying, it is not really that easy to attain a perfect “salpicao”. The level of heat and timing are among the very essential factors one has to totally control to attain good results.

Here is one of my versions which, so far, is the closest to the best “salpicao” I have eaten. First we need the main ingredient: a really fresh tenderloin beef about 300 grams. Mine came from a local beef that’s why it is evidently small.

The other ingredients needed are: 3 gloves garlic, peeled and minced, pinch of salt, pinch of ground pepper, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp liquid seasoning, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tbsp butter.

Cut the tenderloin into ½ inch cube. Place it in a mixing bowl and add in garlic, salt, ground pepper and olive oil. Stir to properly combine, let stand to marinate for about 15 minutes.

For the meantime, combine the liquid seasoning, oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

Using a wok or any steel or cast iron frying pan that can handle extreme heat, heat the vegetable oil over high flame. Fry the marinated beef in batches to avoid over-crowding the bottom of the wok or frying pan and properly sear the meat pieces. For 300 grams of meat, 2 batches should be sufficient. Cook only for several minute to retain the juice inside the meat. Transfer in a plate and set aside. Continue frying the other batch.

When the last batch is done return the first batch in the wok or pan. Add the seasoning-sauce mixture and stir fry for a minute more. Add the butter and stir once more. When the meat and sauce starts to sizzle, turn off the heat. It’s done. :-)

Transfer in a medium plate and serve immediately. Whether with garlic fried rice or steamed rice, it will still come out as a truly wonderful meal. The rich sauce is just so good to be slathered on rice. For as long as the right cooking period was attained the meat will be tender, juicy and yummy.

This is so tasty…… but more on the well done side. I would prefer it medium rare. But it is okay. It is understandable because I am taking pictures requiring that I leave the stir frying process most of the time. Still yummy though. Enjoy! c“,)

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