Bistec de Palomilla

Bistec de Palomilla

Bistec de Palomilla is a Cuban dish where a piece of beef is split in thickness, creating two thin steaks of equal size. The meat is then tenderized with a meat mallet. Since the meat is so thin, it is highly susceptible to tenderization, and even a pretty tough cut of meat will become tender. Therefore, you don’t have to purchase expensive cuts of meat to make Bistec de Palomilla.


Palomilla is the Spanish name for several moths species, and the name of the dish is a reference to how the split meat looks like two moth wings when arranged side by side.


Bistec de palomilla is marinated in seasoned lime juice before being fried in a pan, and is traditionally served together with rice and black turtle beans.

Recipe for Bistec de Palomilla


  • 2 pounds of round steak, cut into 6 thin pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • Sometimes a bit of extra olive oil for frying the steaks
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped


  1. In a shallow pan, create a marinade from lime juice (from 3 limes) and garlic.
  2. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place them in the marinade. Make sure all parts of the steaks are covered in marinade. Leave the steaks to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.
  3. Place olive oil and butter in a skillet and heat over medium heat. When the butter is no longer foaming, add the onions and sauté them until they are soft and just about to turn color. This will happen after roughly 5 minutes of sautéing. Remove the sautéed onions to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high, and place marinated steaks in the skillet. Do not add all the steaks at once since this will cause a crowded skillet. It is better to fry two or three stakes at the time. Since they are so thin, they will only need about 2 minutes of frying per side. Remove finished stakes to a platter and keep warm.

    While frying, add more olive oil if necessary.

  5. When all the steaks are finished, pour the pan juices into the bowl of onions and also add the juice of one lime. Stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  6. Top the steaks with the onion mix, and decorate with parsley before serving. In Cuba, Bistec de Palomilla is usually served with black turtle beans and rice.