Thursday, 19 June 2008

i was feeling down . . .

I don't know what got over me the other day, but I just felt really low. I have been doing ten minutes of exercise every morning as soon as I wake up (in my desperate attempt to lose a bit of extra weight in time for a friend's hen do at the end of the month), but on that day, I couldn't even be bothered to stretch my toes. I was supposed to do some yoga during my lunch break (it was a homeworking day), but I pigged out on crisps and chocolates instead.

By evening, I was feeling so low and frustrated with my sluggishness that I decided to do something that never fails to cheer me up—cook a Filipino dish! After a quick rummage through the fridge and the kitchen cupboards, I managed to cook this:

This is bistek Tagalog, but instead of using beef, I used a pair of yellowfin tuna steaks (bought from the frozen food section of Waitrose, which meant they were a lot cheaper than they would be if I bought them fresh). Bistek derives its name from the Spanish bistec, which means "beef steak." I used to think that this is how all beef steaks were cooked, marinated in soy sauce and kalamansi (Philippine lemons, which actually resemble limes) juice, then cooked in the marinade along with onion rings, which give the dish a hint of sweetness. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Westerners cook their steaks in a less imaginative way (in my Easterner's opinion anyway).

Anyway, this was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits up—soul food that brings me back to the place I love most. I definitely felt a lot better after cooking and eating my bistek. The tuna steaks were lovely, and absorbed just the right amount of the marinade to give them the sour-salty flavour. Bistek is simple enough to make, and I normally don't follow any measurements when I prepare it. Here's how I cooked my tuna bistek. Needless to say, this will apply to other "bistek-able" things, such as beef and pork chops. Just make sure to slice your beef and pork chops thinly to help them absorb the marinade better. They'll need more time to marinate as well, although the longest I have marinated them is three hours, and they've still come out really nicely flavoured.


dark soy sauce
juice of half a lemon
medium onion, sliced into rings
2 tuna steaks, weighing around 300 grams

Combine some dark soy sauce and the lemon juice in a bowl. Put the steaks in the bowl and cover and store in the fridge for about an hour. Heat up a little oil in a frying pan and cook the onion rings gently, until they're soft and transparent. Remove from the heat and set aside. Fry the tuna steaks in the same pan for about 4 minutes on each side. Add the marinade, bring to a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the onion rings and let them absorb some of the sauce before turning the heat off. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables. Enjoy!

Tonight, I shall attempt to cook squid adobo. Wish me luck!

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