Cooking a dish like Beef Asado always reminds me of my hometown Tarlac, and the neighboring Pampanga province where I grew up. Cooking meats the asado way is basically simmering the meats in tomatoes and tomato sauces till the liquid is reduced to a regal dark reddish hue, rich and thick enough to luxuriously pour on a bed of steamed rice.
I have cooked Asado in different ways: Pork Asado is a readers’ favorite in one of my cookbooks My Mother’s Philippine Recipes; Chicken Asado is a well-loved family favorite at our table; and this Beef Asado recipe I’m sharing here is one I often cook when we have family or friends over for dinner.
Asado seems to be common in Kapampangan cooking. The ease and availability of pork, chicken and beef in the Luzon region, and the abundance of fresh tomatoes makes this dish an ideal one to prepare.
Asado transcends everyday meals, or what we call in Kapampangan “pang aldo-aldo” and can easily be scaled up to party fare. I have often seen an asado dish served at town fiestas or large gatherings from baptisms to birthdays. I assume it is because asado is a recipe one can make ahead.
When I’m cooking asado in my American kitchen these days, the fully ripe Jersey tomatoes and the tomato sauces blend well and become sweeter after a day or two. The dish is more flavorful – the sweetness seeps into the tender beef sirloin, downplaying the saltiness that used to be there. And the thick dark red tomato sauce has become richer, often rendering its own smidgen of oil around it. Pour all these on newly-cooked rice and it is sheer comfort food. I just know all is right in the world after a spoonful of this superb goodness.
- Large mixing bowl
- chopping board
- Large skillet – about 12 to 14 inches
- 1.5 pounds beef sirloin or tenderloin, sliced thin, into 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons toyo (soy sauce); Filipino brands like Silver Swan
For the asado sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole large onion, chopped
- 1/4 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 whole (8 to 10 ounces) large potato, peeled, sliced into 2-inch length pieces
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced in strips, for garnish
- steamed rice
To prepare beef:
- In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the teaspoon of baking soda all over the beef slices. Distribute the amount evenly, using a fork or spoon.Leave the baking soda in the meat slices for 20 to 30 minutes, but NOT longer.Then wash the baking soda off the meat by placing the beef under cold running water. Shake off all particles of the baking soda.Pat the beef dry with paper towels.Tip: The baking soda helps to tenderize the meat.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the beef slices with the calamansi or lemon juice and soy sauce. Marinate the meat, covered in the refrigerator, for 1 to 2 hours.
To cook the Beef Asado:
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the oil and butter. When oil is hot and the butter starts to sizzle, saute the garlic, onions and tomatoes. Stir the ingredients around and saute on low heat for about 3 to 5 minutes till tomatoes are soft and onions are fragrant.
- Add the marinated beef slices to the skillet and incorporate with the tomatoes.Pour the tomato paste and sauce, and the beef broth.Add the sliced potatoes.Mix ingredients well so that the tomato sauces coat all the meat and potato slices.Season with salt and black pepper.
- Cook uncovered over a low simmer till beef and potatoes are tender. Allow the sauce to reduce to a thick, dark red liquid that coats the meat and potatoes, about 40 minutes. Keep the heat low so that the liquid does not burn or evaporate.When done, garnish with slices of red bell peppers. Serve warm with steamed rice.
- Store Beef Asado leftovers in covered containers in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to 1 week.For a make-ahead option, cook the Asado ahead, and keep in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- Remember to keep a low heat when cooking this dish. A low, slow simmer over very low fire, for quite a period of time is needed to achieve the reduction of the rich, thickness of the tomato sauce. Patience is a key ingredient.
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