If you’ve spent some time scrolling through this site, you’ll know that Filipino dishes has tons of different alteration in each part and regions of the Philippines. Even the different households in those regions have a version of their own Filipino recipes served on their table. Carne Frita is one of the best examples of a Filipino recipe developed in a specific part of the country.
Carne Frita is a delicious meat dish that originated from the Ilonggos from the West Visayas region of the Philippines. It’s very similar to a classic Filpino recipe, Bistek Tagalog. Both Filipino dishes certainly look identical in presentation but are prepared quite differently.
Carne Frita usually needs garlic and sugar during and is marinated in its ingredients, unlike Bistek Tagalog. Ilonggos definitely love this dish and it’s hugely considered comfort food in the region, especially in big food cities like Iloilo.
I highly recommend visiting Iloilo and take time exploring the different food places there because the pickings are so diverse and quite different from the usual Filipino dishes found in Luzon. I actually got my first taste of Carne Frita not in a restaurant but as an amazing treat from my Airbnb host while staying in Iloilo. I honestly thought at first that it was Bistek Tagalog but at first bite, the flavors are a little sweeter with a more aromatic taste than Bistek Tagalog. It was a pleasant surprise.
I, of course, asked my host all about this new Ilonggo dish that I’ve just found out about, and apparently, households there typically serve it during Sundays when every family members are home for the weekend. It’s one of their ultimate comfort food.
My host said that they typically marinate the meat first in a simple mixture of soy sauce, calamansi juice, garlic, sugar, and peppercorns for their Carne Frita recipe before cooking but every household differs in their preparation and recipes, like with most Filipino dishes.
My host was also gracious enough to share their recipe of Carne Frita for me to take home which I’ve practiced with for some time before posting it the results here. It’s a fairly simple recipe to follow but I did make some mistakes along the way. Once I’ve mastered the recipe, I’ve created a few alterations which I think would elevate the flavors even more.
Now for this recipe, instead of marinating the meat, I opted to reduce the meat in its mixture that usually acts as the marinade, something my host taught me that give the meat more flavor.
I guess I’m getting ahead of myself but I just want to put out there that this recipe is a somewhat bastardized version of the traditional Carne Frita recipe found in Western Visaya. But only in terms of the cooking process, the ingredients are completely authentic to the traditional recipe with some additions.
Carne Frita typically used beef in the form of sirloin steak cut and that’s further cut down into strips so I got myself a ½ kg sirloin steak from the butcher and cut that into stripes ⅛ inches thick. The other ingredients that I’ve used are ½ cup of vinegar, ¼ cup of dark soy sauce, you can use any brand of soy sauce but it’s much better to use Filipino soy sauce, 3 garlic cloves, 1 laurel leaf, 10 whole black peppercorns, ½ cup of water, ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 white onions, and 3 tablespoons of cooking oil.
Now for the somewhat altered cooking process. In a saucepan over low heat, put in the sirloin strips, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, laurel leaf, and peppercorns. Boil the meat in this mixture until the smell of vinegar dissipates. Leave the saucepan uncovered while it’s boiling and absolutely do not stir the ingredients.
You can add water when needed, and once the smell of vinegar is gone, you can cover the saucepan and let it simmer until the meat is very tender. Remember to season it with salt once the meat is ready.
Next is to slice the white onions into rings and sautee the onions in a frying pan until it’s wilted. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Get the meat out of the saucepan and reserve the liquid that’s left inside. Brown the meat using the pan where we sauteed the onion rings.
Once the meat is browned, add the reserved liquid and let it simmer in the pan until it’s all reduced and we’re done.
For assembling the dish, all we have to do is to transfer the meat in a platter, pour the remaining sauce over the meat, and top it with the sauteed onion rings. Serve hot with Jasmine rice for the best experience.
I’m really grateful for my Airbnb host in Iloilo for sharing this recipe with me and I really want to credit them but they wanted to remain anonymous. So let’s be respectful of that and enjoy the delicious Carne Frita.
Carne Frita Recipe
- 1 ⁄2 kg sirloin
- 1 ⁄2 cup vinegar
- 1 ⁄4 cup dark soy sauce preferably Filipino soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 laurel leaf
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 ⁄2 cup water
- 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 white onions
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- Slice sirloin 1/8 inch thick.
- In a saucepan put in the meat, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic,laurel leaf and peppercorns. Boil the meat over low heat. Leave uncovered until the smell of vinegar dissipates, DO NOT STIR.
- Add water when needed.
- Cover and let simmer until meat is very tender.
- Season with salt.
- Slice the white onions into rings.
- In a frying pan, saute the onions till wilted. Remove from pan.
- Put in the meat, reserve the liquid it was boiled inches
- Brown the meat. Add the reserved liquid. Let it simmer till liquid has been reduced.
- Transfer meat to a platter, pour sauce over. Top with sauteed onions. Serve hot with Jasmine rice.