Say this about salpicao: not only is it an excellent choice for bar chow [pulutan], but it also doubles as a main dish for lunch or dinner. (Or breakfast, even, if you’re the steak-and-eggs sort.) There is just something so good, so satisfying about this combination of tender, cubed beef cooked with soy and plenty of garlic.
I’ve cooked it before, several times as a matter of fact, but haven’t been able to find a satisfactory recipe until now. Unlike most salpicao recipes that feature only soy sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic in varying amounts, this one has the virtue of being packed with flavor thanks to the addition of three other ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and – you’d better believe it – butter.
The tamarind and vinegar in the Worcestershire takes the edge off the salinity of the soy sauce while the oyster sauce gives it an umami twist that makes the flavor of the beef pop out. The butter adds richness and makes the garlic taste deliciously nutty and mellow, a perfect counterpoint to the ferrous tang of the beef.
Served on its own and paired with a proper beer (pale pilsen, cerveza negra, maybe even a pint or two of Guinness or Newcastle Brown Ale – not that filthy, vaguely beerish swill marketed as San Mig Lite), it is a savory thing to nibble with drinks. Paired with rice for dinner, it makes a hearty, satisfying meal.
Salpicao de Margarita
- 1/2 kilo beef sirloin, cut into smallish cubes
- 8 cloves garlic, bashed, peeled, and minced finely
- 1 teaspoon coarse [rock] salt
- 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
- a few drops sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
Toss together the cubed beef, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Leave for about ten minutes, then add a few drops of sesame oil and toss with your hands. Leave to marinate for an hour (covered in the fridge overnight also works).
Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. When the pan is close to smoking hot, put in the beef and garlic and stir-fry until the beef has browned. Reduce heat to medium and add the Worcestershire, soy, and oyster sauces; toss the beef cubes to coat them evenly. Cook for about a couple of minutes or until the sauce has been reduced and slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and immediately toss in the butter, stirring to coat the beef.
Serves 6 if served as is with drinks, 4 if served as a main course with either rice or mashed potatoes.