Bistec Salvadoreño a la Parilla

Summertime is almost here, and that means afternoons which turn into late nights on the patio enjoying good food and good company.

When Carlos and I were dating and early in our marriage, we were often invited to parties at the house of a family friend from El Salvador. Don Andres is from San Miguel, and he always made the best grilled steak. Paired with generous helpings of rice, salad, chirmol, beans, and tortillas piled onto a Styrofoam plate, and eaten with a cold drink on a hot day, it’s one of my favorite meals. When I asked Don Andres for his recipe years ago, he rattled off some ingredients, but wasn’t precise about measurements. I scribbled them down and over the years figured out the right amounts and made my own little changes based on what I usually have on hand. So, here’s the recipe we use now when we want tender, flavorful Salvadoran-style steaks on the grill!

Bistec Salvadoreño a la Parilla

(Salvadoran Grilled Steak)


1 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbs. white vinegar
almost 1/3 cup red cooking wine
juice of 1 medium-sized lime
3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. black pepper
2 tbs. yellow mustard
2 tbs. minced garlic
1 large white onion sliced

2 to 3 lbs. top sirloin steak sliced about 1/4 inch thin (“butterflied”)
(at a Latino market this cut may be labelled “Palomilla”)


1. Put 1 tablespoon white vinegar into a 1/3 cup. Fill the rest of the way with red cooking wine.

2. In a medium bowl add the white vinegar and red cooking wine with Canola oil, soy sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, yellow mustard, and garlic. Mix until combined.

3. Pour the marinade into a large glass Pyrex or large plastic zipper bag. Add the steaks and sliced onions. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours. [Tip: Now is a good time to prepare your side dishes.]

4. While getting the grill ready (we prefer charcoal), remove the steaks from the marinade and let them sit at room temperature. Remove the onions from the marinade. (I cook the onions in a frying pan on the stove top, then serve atop the steaks.) Discard the marinade.

5. Grill the steaks on both sides to your desired doneness. Serve with onions, rice, tortillas, beans, chirmol, and fresh salad. Enjoy!


  1. That makes me hungry. It’s similar to a marinated round steak we used to have in Syosset. Almost makes me want to cook again :)

  2. It looks like my mom’s cooking and that’s a compliment! I’m a vegetarian so I cannot eat bistecs, but boy, does that ever look good. Hoping you’re well along with your family. Saludes

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