Carne Frita is an Ilonggo dish prepared by thin strips of beef fried and drenched in a sauce made with soy sauce, onions, garlic, calamansi, sesame oil and a bit of sugar. Almost similar to Bistek Tagalog but instead of beef sliced into thin steaks, this one is prepared with thin strips, also garlic and sugar is added giving it a different flavour then a bit of sesame oil is also added for fragrant. I heard that this food is a common dish in Iloilo and considered as one of their comfort food.
Carne Frita may not sound Filipino since it is a dish that was heavily inspired by the Spanish, the name alone is Spanish and it mean “Fried Meat”. As history says Iloilo is one of Spain’s main colony which dates back to 1566 hence most of the island’s cuisine have been heavily influenced by the Spaniards. We also know that this island earned its title “La Muy Leal y Noble Ciudad” (Most Loyal and Noble City) through a royal decree by Queen Regent Maria Cristina of Spain because of the city’s loyalty to the Spanish Crown during the Philippine revolution thus it earned its nickname “the Queen’s City of the South”, no doubt that their cuisine such as this is as Spanish as it can get outside of Spain.
There are many variations of this across Latin and South American countries like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Columbian and Mexican to name some. All of which is made with fried meat and it just differs in the marinade used which highly depend on the local produce of the region it is served.
- 750 g beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips
- 2 onions, sliced into rings
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ⅓ cup calamansi or lemon juice
- ½ cup Philippine soy sauce
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- In a bowl combine all marinade ingredients together, add the beef making sure marinate is evenly distributed then let it marinate overnight.
- Remove 1 hour from the fridge before cooking.
- Drain beef of the marinade, you will need to squeeze the meat so it does not have excess liquid. Reserve the liquid then set aside.
- Prepare a wok, add oil enough to cover the surface then place on a very high heat. Once it starts to smoke add the beef, do not turn and sear until one side is brown, turn it over then sear on the other side. Remove from wok then set it aside. Do not overcook, you might want to do it in batches to prevent beef from stewing.
- In the same wok pour the water, dissolving the brown bits. Let it boil then pour the reserved marinade and sugar then reduce to thicken the sauce. Add the onions, cook for 30 seconds then toss in the beef together with the sesame oil.
- Remove from heat then serve.