Pepper Steak is one of those Hispanic Dishes that masquerades as Bistec Encebollado and Carne Guisada. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’re having Pepper Steak until you stop and think about. Unlike its twin brother and sister, Pepper Steak is made with strip steak and finished off with a variety of bell peppers. It’s insanely delicious and obviously pairs well with the dynamic duo– Rice & Beans.
However, just because this popular dish is easily mistaken for others and widely made, doesn’t mean that people don’t get it wrong! In fact, I personally HATE eating this dish out at Hispanic restaurant because I never know if they’ll nail it on the head. To start, you have to let this dish stew for a at least 30 minutes for it to become tender. You want the meat to melt in your mouth. If it’s chewy then you know right then and there that you’ve undercooked it. And not undercooked it in the sense that it’s raw, but you haven’t let the meat do its magic.
I’ve seen Pepper Steak be easily mistaken for Carne Asada– which is equally as tasty and my recipe will be coming SOON! If you can probably guess, the two dishes are worlds apart! Carne Asada is much simpler and faster to make. It’s also an entirely different cut of meat. It’s an actual steak that you don’t have to cook for long either.
Pepper Steak is a stew dish and almost a Hispanic stir fry. If you can’t decide whether you want Pepper Steak, Carne Guisada, or Bistec Encebollado then ask yourself these questions:
- Am I in the mood for cubed steak, strip steak, or a regular flat steak?
- Do I want sauteed onions at the end or just peppers, or both?
- Do I want to spend a little or save some money?
Your answer will determine which of the three amigos you should go with. If you’re in the mood for cubed steak, go with a Carne Guisada (even though ALL of these dishes can technically be called Carne Guisada. More on that in a later post.) If you want strip steak the go with Pepper Steak and if you’re craving a flat steak then Bistec Encebollado is the one for you. Whether or not the dishes have onions and peppers at the end is entirely up to the chef but Bistec Encebollado typically only has sauteed onions at the end while the other two have both. Pepper Steak will undoubtedly have much more peppers than the other two hence the name. And now for the question of money… None of these dishes are expensive to make but in my experience, Bistec Encebollado is the most expensive. I typically only make this for us at the house. If I’m making a huge portion for a family party of get together, I still with Pepper Steak or Carne Guisada since it’s more cost friendly.
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to eat every Hispanic dish with Rice & Beans. I mean, yes this is the best way to eat them! But you can indulge in Hispanic foods without packing on the pounds! I love having Pepper Steak in lettuce wraps, tacos, or with an avocado salad. The carbs always get me but I refuse to give up all Hispanic foods for the sake of a summer body. Live a little! If you have kiddies in the house, try pairing this with mashed potatoes as well. It’s a great Hispanic-American hybrid that becomes an instant favorite!
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And now for the recipe….
- 2 lbs Beef Strips
- ½ white onion finely minced
- ¼ cubanelle or green pepper minced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 ½ tsp sopita or adobo *to taste
- 1 tbs salsa china *to taste
- 1 tsp DR orégano
- ½ tbs sazón
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cilantro chopped
- 1 lime
- 1 Onion (Red or White) Sliced
- ½ Red Bell Pepper
- ½ Green Bell Pepper
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 cup Water
- Olive oil
- Dice onions, peppers, and garlic and set aside
- Slice bells peppers and onions and set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, add diced onions, peppers, garlic, orégano, adobo/chicken bouillon cube, soy sauce (salsa china), sazón, lime juice, black pepper and olive oil. Mix until well combine
- Marinate for at least 30 mins. Best to marinate overnight in fridge-- max 2 days
- Once meat has been marinating, heat up deep sided skillet over medium high heat. Add oil
- Once oil is hot, add the pepper steak
- Pepper steak will begin to brown and cook in its own juices, after about 3-5 mins, stir so that all sides brown
- After another 3-5 minutes, add water being sure to capture all of the water from the marinade bowl. Add enough water so that it covers the meat completely
- Simmer meat on medium heat for 10 minutes
- Once water dries up, stir again and check for tendering. Add more water again and stew for another 8-10 minutes
- Once the meat is tender, add sliced onions, peppers, and vinegar. If meat is too dry, add a tiny bit more water. You want the meat to have sauce/gravy. Continue cooking until onions and peppers reach your desired softness. I recommend, lowering heat or turning off flames entirely and letting onions and peppers steam. Best to leave them with a bit of crunch & bite