How to Cook the Best Beef Tapa
Are you looking for the best beef tapa recipe?
If you are looking for the best beef tapa recipe, look no further. This post results from many attempts to perfect beef tapa – from my mom’s kitchen to my own, and from sampling and dissecting beef tapa versions from Filipino restaurants in my home country, and, from the kitchens of a few of my friends.
What is Filipino beef tapa?
Beef tapa is cured beef slices. I guess that is the simplest I can put it. Beef slices are cured with salt and other spices, dried and/or fried slowly, and best served with plain or fried rice and vinegar on the side. Older beef tapa recipes required beef slices to be marinated in spices, sundried and fried – or saved for later.
These days, sun drying tapa is not anymore practiced as we can still achieve the beef tapa taste, even without that step. It also makes the meat too dry somehow. Beef tapa’s rather thick sauce from its marinate and the heat on the pan while it cooks produce some super yummy taste that we, Filipinos, describe as “ulam na” which denotes “good enough” or “good enough with rice as it is.” That is referring to the sauce. What about the key ingredient: the beef? You can just imagine!
Tapa is also good with other meats, chicken being the most popular. Tapa, by the way, is Tagalog term that means smoked or dried.
Beef tapa – family favorite through the years
Mom’s beef tapa recipe is for keeps! When I collected my mom’s recipes in the book “there is no oven in Inang’s kitchen,” beef tapa is definitely a feature. The same beef tapa recipe I am sharing with you here. I may not have perfected my mom’s rendition of beef tapa, but I come close. Proof? When my kids say “this is like Inang’s tapa!” That is complement to the max for a daughter and now a mom who is “yours truly.”
Beef tapa in Filipino restaurants as a test for the taste of home
Recently, I noticed that beef tapa has become more and more available in various restaurants in the Philippines. As it is the case, my brother (Francis, that is) finds it is interesting to compare the varying but similar taste of different beef tapas from restaurants we visit. Whichever comes close to the taste of home is best. That is right, right? It is the taste of home, whether we admit it or not, that makes eating out sometimes a worthwhile adventure – ironic as it may seem.
What makes the best beef tapa
It is in the marinate, to put it bluntly. Perfecting the marinate for beef tapa is perfecting its taste. Meat is meat. What we cook with them is what makes the difference. In beef tapa, that is literally the case.
Mom said that meats are best marinated for a maximum of half an hour, or they become rubbery! Mom, I am sorry, but this is not always the case. That tip from appeared in the book I mentioned earlier. Not to negate that, however, the tip works in some recipes. But it is not a general rule.
Anyway, marinating beef tapa is one rule-breaker. The longer you marinate it, the better the juices become part of the meat, and that is where beef tapa is excellently, out-of-this-world yummy.
Let’s do it, here’s our recipe.
Enjoy and please share your experience in cooking the best tapa in the world!
Filipino Beef Tapa
Cured meat and fried. Best for steamed white rice or any fried rice.
- 1 kg beef sirloin thin slices
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup calamansi or lemon juice
- 2 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tbsps cooking oil
- Mix soy sauce, calamansi/lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Add beef, cover and refrigerate overnight, or for about 6 hours.
- Heat cooking oil in a pan. Line beef slices on pan, leaving the marinate liquid aside.
- Fry both sides till slightly brown.
- Beef tapa should be ready. At this point, however, you may add half the marinate liquid and continue to fry beef till all liquid evaporates. This process will make the beef tapa a bit sticky but tastier and less dry.