Filipino Beef Tapa is easy to make and tastes so much better than store-bought. Serve with garlic fried rice and sunny side eggs for a classic Tapsilog breakfast!
The chunk of sirloin I bought and had thinly sliced by the butcher at Seafood City a few days ago was pretty huge and, at roughly four pounds, was more than enough for one meal. I used about one pound for the beef and baby corn stir-fry we had for lunch yesterday and turned the remaining meat into beef tapa to enjoy for breakfast this weekend.
I do have another tapa recipe on the blog with another set of flavors. While it's similar in procedure, I used a marinade of fish sauce, brown sugar, and minced garlic. It's different but delicious, just the same.
What is Filipino tapa
Tapa is a Filipino dish made of thinly-sliced beef, chicken, pork, carabao, or game meat such as deer and wild boar. The meat is traditionally cured with salt and spices and then dried or smoked as a preservation technique. In recent years, the process has been streamlined by simply marinating the meat to infuse flavor and forgoing the drying process.
After preparation, the seasoned meat is fried or grilled until tender and caramelized. It's traditionally eaten as part of the classic Filipino tapsilog.
- Calamansi juice-tenderizes the meat by weakening the surface proteins and adds a tangy taste.
- Soy sauce-acts as a brining agent and boosts savory flavors
- Fresh minced garlic-adds another layer of flavor; fresh is best but garlic powder will work in a pinch
- Sugar-sweetens the marinade and balances the acidic component; helps the meat to caramelize
- Salt-seasons the meat and acts as a brining agent
- Pepper-adds a kick of heat
- Cut the beef thinly for faster cooking and across the grain to ensure a tender chew. To make slicing easier, freeze the meat for a few minutes until slightly firm.
- The recipe below uses calamansi juice but other acidic agents such as lemon juice, vinegar, pickle juice or wine are also great options.
- Do not marinate the meat for too long as the acids in the marinade will denature the protein fibers and result in a mushy texture.
- Sirloin is very tender and takes only a few minutes of pan-frying to cook. If substituting tougher cuts such as bottom round, add about 1 cup of water and simmer the tapa until tender before finishing in oil to crisp up and brown.
What is tapsilog
A portmanteau for the words tapa (cured meat), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (fried egg), tapsilog is a popular Filipino meal served as all-day breakfast. The hearty tapa, rice, and egg combo is usually enjoyed alongside condiments such as spicy vinegar dip, fresh tomato salad or atchara.
Filipino Beef Tapa
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup calamansi juice
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 pounds beef sirloin, thinly sliced
- canola oil
- In a non-reactive bowl, combine soy sauce, calamansi juice, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Add beef and massage to fully coat with marinade. Keep overnight in the refrigerator to cure. Drain meat from marinade.
- In a wide pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil.
- Add beef in a single layer and cook, turning on sides, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until liquid (meat will dispel liquid) is almost absorbed.
- Add another 1 tablespoon of oil and continue to cook until meat is lightly browned.
- Remove from pan and cut into serving portions. Serve hot.