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A close up of carne en bistec.

Carne en Bistec (Colombian Steak with Tomatoes and Onions)

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Units Scale
  • 1.5-pound flank steak, cut thinly against the grain (see note)
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large tomato or (15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 cup beef broth, more as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pat steak dry with paper towels and slice thinly against the grain, aiming for ¼” thickness. Place the steak slices in a bowl and add a big pinch of salt, dried oregano, cumin, and red wine vinegar. Let the steak marinate in the bowl for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat a heavy skillet that measures around 12-14 inches over medium-high heat. An enameled cast iron braiser is recommended for this step. When the pan is very hot add a splash of oil and then carefully sear the steak pieces, about 3 minutes per side, or until a deep brown crust is formed.
  3. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the onions and cook until they are starting to turn translucent, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and pepper, and the beef broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  5. Return the steak slices and any released juices back to the skillet. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the cover. The sauce should be thickened and nicely coat the steak. If the sauce is too thin, cook with the cover off for a few minutes until it’s reached the desired consistency.
  7. Serve hot with white rice and sliced avocado and a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley.


This recipe requires the steak to be sliced as thinly as possible - aim for about 1/4 inch thickness. To make slicing easier, ensure that the meat is cold and that your knife is sharp. If you find it difficult to cut the meat to the required thickness, using a meat mallet to pound it out evenly instead.

Use fresh tomatoes when they are in season. However, when fresh tomatoes aren’t available, a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes can be substituted. Just be sure to drain and discard the tomato juice as using it can result in an overly tomato-flavored sauce.