13 Oct2008

salpicao2

I love a good Beef Salpicao. But it is really hard to find a good version in a restaurant or bar these days. So I decided to make it at home… and while I was at it, confused as I read more and more recipes, I decided to try three different versions of the dish. First of all, the word Salpicao is probably portuguese in origin, the original translation is for a “pork sausage”. Then there is the variation calling it Salpicado. And more recently, Solomillo or Beef or Steak a la Pobre, probably most accurately credited to Alba’s restaurant, a filet mignon served with garlic potatoes. Essentially, the version I know and like is tender beef tenderloin tips in bite sized pieces, sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic and some flavorings. Personally, I like a version that is very tender, yet not watery, browned/caramelized on the surface of the steak pieces, and with a very tasty dark rich sauce. While some like to pick at this at the bar with drinks, tapas style, I like to eat this with steamed rice, leaving none of the precious flavored oil and sauce behind. But a bit of cursory research led to more confusion about its origins than not…

First, in a Spanish cookbook, I found a simple recipe for Puntitas de solomillo al ajillo or “Beef Tenderloin Tips in Garlic Sauce” that seemed like a pretty good base recipe that could have been the inspiration for our own Pinoy version. In this case, you heat fruity olive oil, add lots of chopped garlic, the tenderloin tips, cut into small cubes, sea salt to taste and some dry Spanish sherry. Some water is used to deglaze the pan and this is added to the sauce. This is the paler version on the plate in the photos here… the batch at the far end of the plate. This tasted quite good, but it was a bit less flavorful than I was looking for. The sherry added a nice twist, and all in all, this would rate say a 6 out of 10 on a Marketman scale. I also added some freshly ground pepper.

salpicao1

In another cookbook, I found a recipe for Solomillo al ajo tostado or Filet Mignon with Toasted Garlic Mayonnaise that while totally different from a pinoy Beef Salpicao, seemed like it could also have been the inspiration for a salpicao. In this case a thinnish slice of filet mignon is seasoned with salt and pepper, seared in a hot pan, then slathered with a garlic mayonnaise and stuck under a broiler. It is the version in the middle of the plate in the photos above. It looked horrible (the mayonnaise didn’t brown as planned), but it was juicy and incredibly tasty. And no, this was not likely to be related to our Salpicao… this would have rated a 5 out of 10. Not to be repeated in our household.

So I gave up on searching for the original inspiration for this dish. Besides the fact that many claim this recipe as being totally Pinoy, I can’t help but think about the most common ingredients sited for our version of Salpicao include: beef tips, olive oil (Spain or Italy), paprika (Spain), salt and pepper, Knorr or Maggi seasoning (local or swiss), garlic, butter, worcestershire sauce (English), hot sauce like Tabasco (American) or chopped chillies, flour, broth, etc. That’s a pretty mixed bag of international ingredients, if you ask me. So I decided to make up my own recipe instead… I purchased pretty good Australian chilled tenderloin and cut it up myself into the 1/2 inch cubes or slightly bigger. I then heated up a pan and added both good olive oil and a large dollop of butter and when this was sizzling hot, added lots and lots of chopped garlic and after a minute or less of frying, added the meat to the pan, taking care not to crowd the pan too much or you will steam your meat rather than sear it. Add some salt and pepper and toss this around for a minute or two. For me, the key is to just cook the meat so it remains tender, yet you want caramelized bits on the skin and pan for flavor. You need a really hot pan, preferably cast iron if you have it. I added several dashes of paprika for a bit of color and some sweetness, worcestershire sauce, knorr seasoning, and if you like it hot, some chopped chillies. A lot of the meat sold in local stores are incredibly watery, so I devised this next step to remove moisture from the dish. Quickly remove the meat from the pan and to a plate and reduce the sauce so it thickens up a bit, without overcooking the beef. Some folks add flour, but I don’t. Then when you have the consistency you want, add the beef back and mix until well coated. Serve hot with lots of rice. It is the version that is nearest to you in the photos here. YUM. My version was a good 8-8.5 out of 10… but I am biased on this one… If you have any Salpicao tips, pun intended, I would love to hear about them. One kilo of beef would serve 5-6 people, but this is still a fairly pricey dish…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. millet says:

    same way i do it…butter and olive oil, and lots of black pepper, except that i add a few sprinles of knorr liquid seasoning and more fried garlic on top. definitely not for a low-carb day.

    Oct 13, 2008 | 9:42 pm

     
  2. Tricia says:

    Thank you, thank you MM!!!

    I remember asking if you have ever done a post on beef salpicao weeks ago. Thanks lots!!!!!!

    :)

    Oct 13, 2008 | 10:43 pm

     
  3. lyna says:

    yummm… i remember a good salpicao dish that I always ordered at one of the better known restaurants in malate at the area of the remedios circle. [am I allowed to mention names?] I wonder if the dish still tastes the same

    Oct 14, 2008 | 12:42 am

     
  4. myra_p says:

    MM, by coincidence, I did Pork Salpicao tonight… trimmed Pork Tenderloin cut into bite size cubes, seasoned with salt, dropped in a hot hot wok with lots of good olive oil. I dont like my garlic toasted, so I add it when the pork is half cooked, and let the garlic “stew” in the juices. When the meat is cooked, I add several very generous dashes of kikkoman and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle generously with chopped parsley and serve HOT. Because the pork is white-ish, the kikkoman adds some color, so don’t skip this.

    My one kilo of pork tenderloin (cheaper than beef) served 4 women and 3 kids, but that’s probably because I also had vegetables and some chicken ala king to go with it :)

    Oct 14, 2008 | 12:45 am

     
  5. Maria says:

    my best beef salpicao restos would be Chokiss in UP Diliman, La Copa, Pasay and Cafe George in Cebu

    Oct 14, 2008 | 4:48 am

     
  6. peterb says:

    I use the same ingredients in making salpicao though i haven’t used beef. I usually use chicken thighs since its much quicker to cook. I also am yet to find good tenderloin cuts for this. I’ve used tenderloin in other dishes and most came out tough.

    Maria, is La Copa the same one that used to be in the Philippine Village Hotel complex?

    Oct 14, 2008 | 7:01 am

     
  7. Maria says:

    peterb, i dont know about the phil village hotel one but the one i frequent before was across the old domestic airport. It’s in the same bldg as that chinese resto.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 7:05 am

     
  8. wahini says:

    when i make my salpicao i like to toss the cut beef in a little kikkoman soy sauce before i throw it in the pan. it helps with the caramelization that we all look for in a good salpicao. using a local brand of soy overpowered the dish too much. i’ve also used other cuts of meat like top blade to cut cost when i made it for a group of people and it turned out to be just as tender.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 9:41 am

     
  9. Hatari says:

    Salpicao is one of my all time favorites and the best one I can remember was served at Tequila Joe’s (at Glorietta – now closed : ( ) and was called ‘sloppy cow.’ It was good because the beef tenderloin cubes were well seared and medium to medium rare inside. The seasoning was just right with a salty, earthy sweetness and the pan sauce was de-glazed to a nice syrupy coating. Finally, instead of just sauteed or fried garlic, soft and sweet roast garlic was used adding to the overall wonderful mix of flavors.
    I’ve tried replicating this at home with moderate success — very hot cast iron pan, beef tenderloin cubes marinated in olive oil, a little knorr seasoning and salt. Sear the beef cubes a handful at a time to prevent too much liquid from pooling in the pan and then immediately transferred to a colander (save the drippings!). After searing all the meat, deglaze the pan with red wine and the drippings from the seared beef. Add roast garlic cloves and reduce to a syrupy consistency, add back the beef and coat with the pan juice. When heated through, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Tableside seasoning – Knorr and/or Sriracha.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 10:16 am

     
  10. wysgal says:

    Salpicao is awesome because it’s so easy to make. Version 3 is the simplest, and sounds the yummiest. You just need to have great beef, and ensure that you keep things medium rare (not well done as is common in many Filipino kitchens).

    Oct 14, 2008 | 11:45 am

     
  11. tups says:

    Peterb,

    When you say you use chicken thighs since they are much quicker to cook, do you mean in relation to other chicken parts or to beef? If you meant beef, there’s your problem on beef coming out too tough. No hard and fast rules but given the small beef cuts, more than 3 minutes would be overdoing it. As MM mentioned, the whole idea is caramelization (for added flavor). Also, make sure your beef is at room temperature before cooking (i.e., defrost ahead of time).

    Oct 14, 2008 | 12:52 pm

     
  12. Pebs says:

    I used to go to Sugarhouse for their beef salpicado. Now they also have chicken salpicado.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 1:09 pm

     
  13. lee says:

    gutom na ko…

    Oct 14, 2008 | 4:36 pm

     
  14. mia says:

    ako din…gutom na…

    =)

    Oct 14, 2008 | 5:28 pm

     
  15. alicia says:

    My beef salpicao has the crispy garlic and a head of previously roasted garlic in it. The roasted garlic is very sweet by this point so its not too garlicky. I also saute seperately some mushrooms and add them into the salpicao when I have them around. I love this dish. Last week I bought a pack of the Chicago Frozen Steaks at S&R-ribeye, made them into salpicao this weekend and it was very good!

    My kids love the chicken a la pobre/ salpicao at Contis. I have tried this at home and I think its basically chicken thighs and lots of garlic and knorr.. we add some sesame oil too. Came out pretty good. I agree that caramelization is key!

    Oct 14, 2008 | 6:07 pm

     
  16. peterb says:

    maria, i’m not sure what came 1st, the one in front of the domestic airport of or the phil vill hotel. I used to frequent the place in the mid 90’s.

    tups, i meant in relation to beef. I’ve tried cooking beef that is properly thawed (but not a room temp, i leave it at the bottom of the fridge) and do cook it for a short time, but not as short as 3 minutes. I’ll remember to cook it really quickly next time. Thanks.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 6:24 pm

     
  17. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Ummmmm..makes me hungry. My husband loves salpicao.Let me try the third way. Visualizing,I guess thatlooks best and tastes the way my husband will like it.Thanks MM!!!
    Want try the chicken too….

    Oct 14, 2008 | 7:37 pm

     
  18. zena says:

    Watery beef! I never thought of that. And I was very puzzled why my salpicao almost turned into stew. And i only had the olive oil, knorr and lee & perrins as liquids. Thanks for solving my mystery, MM. And I agree that it’s difficult to find a good one in restos that’s why I usually don’t order it. Thanks for the reminder on this dish, will try it again.

    Oct 14, 2008 | 9:44 pm

     
  19. Isabelle says:

    What I coincidence. I’m eating it for lunch while reading your blog. We have very good beef here in New Zealand so thank goodness watery beef is not a problem. Usually we marinate the beef in worcestershire, garlic, pepper and some oyster sauce before cooking. Oyster sauce was the “secret” ingredient in Tequila Joe’s salpicao.

    Oct 15, 2008 | 8:07 am

     
  20. portugalbear says:

    i marinate my beef in galic, knorr and worcestershire. when cooking i discovered the secret is hot pand and to keep the beef moving fast, and cook in batches. that way it won’t end up being a stew. to thicken the sauce, i add the butter and siling haba at the end. got this recipe from a friend who got it from one of the local food magazines. taste really good

    Oct 15, 2008 | 3:22 pm

     
  21. The Steak Lady says:

    Thanks so much MM! :)) I’ve been waiting for your Salpicao recipe. Can’t wait to try it!! :D

    Oct 15, 2008 | 9:19 pm

     
  22. xkwzt says:

    The last salpicao I had was at a small resto in Serendra, beside Xocolat. Don’t remember the name of the place, but it had a banquet on the left side, and mirrors. I remember being pleasantly surprised at my first bite.

    Sorry, I’m usually more “coherent”..

    Oct 15, 2008 | 11:41 pm

     
  23. Ted says:

    Poleng Lounge in San Francisco serves Beef Salpicao with bone marrow butter. They were incredibly good. The chef i believe was raised in the Philippines and most of the menu’s in the lounge were pinoy based. This is one of the up and coming resto in SF that i would recommend you go to when you visit.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 2:49 am

     
  24. rina says:

    my preference is to cook salpicao on an induction cooktop, i’ve found that getting the pan to keep the searing hot temps needed so that you don’t end up braising the meat is much easier than using a regular stove top or burner.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:39 pm

     
  25. Fred says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the Salpicao at Alba’s. It’s definitely my favorite. I could probably live on just their Salpicao and Gambas.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 6:55 pm

     
  26. MikeW says:

    Great timing! This is a dish I’ll definitely try.

    A market down the street (New Jersey, USA) is having a sale on beef loins — free-range beef at a fifth the price of the flavorless factory-farm beef. Time to fill the freezer.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 10:22 pm

     
  27. chrisb says:

    The best tip I can give is to think of heat (fire from the stove not from chili peppers) as an ingredient- it will affect flavor and texture if you add too much or too little. So the “amount” of heat always has to be just right.

    Oct 18, 2008 | 10:41 pm

     
  28. al yasko says:

    A cast-iron skillet, hot as it can get… check. Good olive oil… check. Lots of garlic… check. Good beef… check (I use tri-tip, sliced against the grain, seasoned well with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, seared then removed from pan). Splash of good sherry to deglaze pan and reduce… check. Splash of veal or chicken stock… check. Return beef to pan, reduce the liquid to desired consistency, splash of Worcestershire or Maggi or Knorr, finish with bit of butter… eat!

    Oct 19, 2008 | 2:27 pm

     
  29. juls says:

    the best beef salpicao i’ve tasted so far is from PEPE’s in Bacolod….

    happy masskara everybody!

    Oct 19, 2008 | 6:23 pm

     
  30. dragon says:

    Hi MM, am back after 4 weeks in sunny (NOT!) Scotland…

    Salpicao: one of life’s simple pleasures..served with either garlic fried rice or garlic bread (good for the heart!).

    My version: cut beef (usually tenderloin) into 1/2 inch cubes, marinate in knorr (not maggi–it lacks the smokiness of knorr)/worchestershire/freshly ground black pepper/minced garlic for about 15-20 minutes (no more, otherwise, beef will toughen). Transfer to colander to drain but reserve marinade. On a hot pan, with butter/olive oil mix, sear beef in batches. Halfway through cooking the last batch, throw in more minced garlic and the rest of the batch to reheat. Serve.

    Oct 20, 2008 | 7:49 am

     
  31. Gay says:

    Am cooking salpicao in a few minutes, but I’ll use tuna instead. Hope it turns out well.

    Dec 29, 2008 | 6:12 pm

     
  32. Anton A. says:

    this all sounds great!!! But the best comes from SAN Mig bar and resto. I can’t believe no one has said it. La Copa was great too must have their Caesar salad. I’ll try the last recipe in a bit. THANKS!!!

    May 7, 2009 | 11:15 am

     
  33. almanna says:

    What’s salpicao? :-/

    Aug 29, 2009 | 3:46 pm

     
  34. Ky says:

    I loved the salpicao that they serve in Tender Bobs at Greenhills branch. Very tasty, be sure to make them cook it in medium rare – medium!:)

    Feb 4, 2010 | 1:28 pm

     
  35. Sheryl says:

    I made your version of Salpicao tonight…very tasty!! Your blog’s always a source of inspiration for great food! I put Australian sherry in mine tonight…turned out super well! Thanks!

    May 23, 2010 | 9:59 am

     
 

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