Despite the foreign sounding name, it appears that beef salpicao is a Filipino dish. Is it related to the Portuguese sausage called salpicão? Well, the Filipino beef salpicao is definitely not a sausage but, rather, a garlicky quick-braised dish.
It was a challenge finding the history of this dish, I still don’t know where in the Philippines it first appeared but I did discover two things which may help explain the “salpicao” part of its name.
First, salpicado is a Spanish word which means “spattered with” (thank you, Clair). Considering that the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over four centuries, “salpicao” just might be a derivative of salpicado.
Second, more searching led me to references to salpicao as a Brazilian word. I found a Brazilian-English translator which says that salpicao means “dotty” in English. I figure that “spattered with” and “dotty” might just refer to the gazillion bits of garlic in beef salpicao. Maybe. Perhaps. Arguable. Debatable.
What isn’t in doubt is how delicious beef salpicao is. Tender and juicy beef cubes that are salty and subtly sweet and boldly smelling and tasting of garlic. The way the meat tastes and smells, you’d think it has been flavored by a hundred spices.
But beef salpicao has very few ingredients! The simplicity in the preparation and the startling deep flavors… it’s just the perfect main dish for a party. You can even serve it as a cocktail food! Place in a shallow bowl, hand out small forks and voila!
To cook beef salpicao start by cutting beef into cubes. One-inch cube is a good size. Place the beef on a plate lined with paper towels then cover them with more paper towels and press down with you hand to remove surface moisture.
Place the beef in a mixing bowl, add grated garlic and ground black pepper, then pour in olive oil. Mix well working the oil, garlic and pepper into the meat. The beef has to marinate for at least two hours to give it time to soak up the garlicky and peppery goodness. So, cover the bowl and place the beef in the fridge.
Because cooking time is so short, prep the rest of the ingredients just before you start cooking. Mix the ingredients for the sauce. Halve or quarter the button mushrooms depending on how large they are. Ideally, they should be the same size as the beef.
Take the beef out of the fridge, add flour and toss to coat the beef cubes lightly. Some cooks skip the flouring but I find that the beef sears better when floured. Plus, the flour thickens the sauce during braising and that makes it easier for the sauce to stick to the beef cubes.
Now, the searing begins. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan and spread the beef in a single layer. Do not disturb them until the undersides are browned.
Give the beef cubes quarter turns every half minute or so to brown all sides. Pour in the sauce and stir. The sauce will thicken fast because of the flour.
Throw in the mushrooms and stir into the sauce. Cook, stirring often, just until the mushrooms are done. And that’s it! Serve your beef salpicao immediately.
- 500 grams Wagyu beef cut into one-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons finely grated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place the beef cubes between stacks of paper towels and press down to remove excess water.
- Place the beef in a bowl, add the grated garlic, pepper and olive oil. Mix well.
- Cover and keep in the fridge for two hours.
- Stir together the Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning.
- Cut the mushrooms into quarters (or into halves, if they are rather small).
- Place the marinated beef cubes in a bowl, add the flour, cover and shake to coat the cubes evenly.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan — wide enough to contain the beef cubes in a single layer. The heat should be very high.
- When the olive oil and butter are hot, add the floured beef, spreading the pieces so that every piece touches the oil. Do not stir for a minute or so to allow the underside to brown. Keep the heat very high.
- Turn the beef cubes every half minute to brown all sides.
- Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning.
- Stir briskly; the sauce should thicken quite fast.
- Add the mushrooms and stir.
- Cook for a minute or so until the mushrooms are just done and have soaked up some of the thick sauce.
- Serve your wagyu beef salpicao as a main course or as an appetizer.