Make your own tapsilog with this beef tapa recipe. Made with thinly sliced tender beef cured in a sweet, salty, garlicky, and savory marinade. This is your ultimate Filipino breakfast, made easy and delicious!
Beef Tapa for TAPSILOG
Beef tapa is the Filipino (Philippines) version of 'cured beef'. It is a popularly served for breakfast "TAPSILOG" style but it is one of those dishes that you can also enjoy for lunch and dinner.
Beef tapa, like longganisa, has many variations. Some prepare it in the salty-garlicky style while others make it with a hint of sweetness. I love my tapa to be on the sweeter slightly tangy side so that's what we're making today.
You find these ingredients non-traditional and probably sweeter than usual but I find that this combination not only makes the best homemade version of tapa but also closest to Jollibee's tapsilog (shh... don't tell anyone).
- Pineapple juice - use pure canned pineapple juice.
- Brown Sugar - sweetens the tapa. Add more or less depending on your preference.
- Soy sauce - adds color and saltiness to the tapa
- Salt - use sea salt or kosher salt. Do not use iodized or table salt.
- Vinegar - the acid helps tenderize the meat. Use coconut vinegar, cane vinegar, and red or white wine vinegar.
- Liquid seasoning - enhances the beef flavor with its deep umami flavoring
- Ground black pepper
- Garlic - Filipino recipes are never complete without this.
Best Beef Cut for Tapa
The best beef cut for tapa is top sirloin, ribeye, and tenderloin. The last two are my favorite for having a good marbling of fat which brings out a delicious beefy flavor.
How to Slice The Beef
Cut the beef into thin slices about ½ inch. You can easily do this at home using a sharp knife. Tip: freeze the whole block of beef for 2 hours beforehand to make it easier to cut.
You can also use pre-cut beef for convenience. If you happen to live nearby an Asian grocery store, I highly highly recommend looking for beef sukiyaki or beef shabu-shabu cuts. Yes, the one's that you use for hot pot. The extra thin cuts help the meat easily absorb the flavor of the marinade and there's no chance of overcooking which can lead to toughened meat. It's what I used in this recipe.
The Secret to a Tender Beef Tapa
To thoroughly enjoy beef tapa, you must tenderize it before cooking. There are a few ways to do this. Choose whatever is convenient for you.
- Pound the beef with a meat mallet using the spiky side - this will break down the muscle fibers and will make it tender. Use just enough pressure, not too hard. Do this on both sides of the meat.
- Marinate in baking soda then rinse - baking soda helps tenderize the meat by alkalizing its surface, making it harder for the proteins to bond and thereby keeping the meat tenderer when cooked.
How long to Marinate
For best flavor, marinate the beef tapa overnight. The acid in the pineapple juice and vinegar also helps tenderize the meat which allows it to absorb more flavor.
To marinate, add all the marinade ingredients to the beef. Massage with your hands to combine well. Place in an airtight container or cover with a plastic wrap. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours but best overnight.
How to Cook–Tips!
Here's how to cook the perfect beef tapa at home:
- Heat the oil in a wide pan over high heat. The pan must be hot enough to brown and cook the beef quickly.
- Use a cooking tong to pick up the beef pieces and directly place them in the hot pan. This is the easiest way to separate the meat from the marinade.
- Cook the beef in batches to retain the heat of the pan and prevent the meat from becoming watery. Don't overcrowd the pan.
For ½ inches thick beef slices – this should take about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. It's cooked when both sides are charred and brown.
For extra-thin slices (sukiyaki/shabu-shabu cut) - you can cook this all at once with a wide shallow pan. Let the water evaporate and cook until the beef turns brown. Using this type of meat is very forgiving. There's no need to worry about overcooking the beef.
More Filipino breakfast...
Serve TAPSILOG Style!
And the best part, serve beef tapa "TAPSILOG" style!
TAPSILOG is a blend of Filipino words that means TAPA (TAP), SINANGAG (SI) and ITLOG (LOG). Tapa refers to cured beef, sinangag means garlic fried rice and itlog means fried egg.
And here is how to make TAPSILOG in one pan:
- Start with frying the egg - you can make sunny side up, over easy, over medium, or scrambled eggs.
- Cook the beef tapa
- Fry the garlic - in the same oil that where you fried the beef. Add more oil as needed.
- Stir-fry the rice - until the rice granules are lightly toasted chewy. The best part? All the flavors from the fried beef will be absorbed into the rice.
Place the tapa, garlic fried rice, and fried eggs on a plate. Serve with cucumber salad, fresh tomatoes, or atchara, and sukang sawsawan for dipping sauce.
Don't forget the coffee 🙂
Try these Beef Recipes
Storage and Shelf-life
Marinated beef tapa can only last 5 days in the refrigerator. For longer shelf-life, freeze and place in a freezer-safe container. It should last for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight before cooking the next day.
Frequently asked questions
You can also use calamansi juice, and vinegar as a substitute for pineapple juice to make beef tapa. The amount will be different due to the level of acidity. See the recipe card for more details.
Try these next...
Beef Tapa for Tapsilog
- 500 grams /17 oz tender beef (thinly sliced, see note 1)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (see note 2)
- 2 tablespoon oil (for frying)
Beef Tapa Marinade
- 3-4 sunny side eggs
- garlic fried rice
- slice tomatoes and cucumber
- Place beef slices in a large bowl. Sprinkle baking soda then massage with your hands. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with tap water then completely drain in a colander. Place back in the bowl.
- In another bowl, combine all ingredients for the marinade. Stir well until sugar is dissolved. Taste then adjust sugar, salt, or pepper based on preference.½ cup pure pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon vinegar, ¼ cup Filipino soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoon brown sugar, 5 cloves garlic, ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon liquid seasoning
- Pour marinade into the beef. Massage until well combined. Cover the bowl or place in an airtight container and marinate for a minimum of 2 hours or place in the fridge and marinate overnight.
Cook the beef tapa (see note 6 for tips)
- Heat oil in a wide pan over high heat. When the oil is hot enough, fry the beef slices until both sides are browned. This should only take 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cook in batches to prevent the pan from becoming too watery.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Beef cuts - top sirloin, ribeye, and tenderloin are recommended cuts for beef tapa. For convenience, you can also use beef sukiyaki or beef shabu-shabu cuts (yes, the one’s that you use for hot pot) available in most Asian grocery stores.
- Baking Soda - this helps tenderize the beef. If not available, you can also tenderize the beef by pounding it with a meat mallet. Skip the baking soda step if using beef sukiyaki cuts.
- Pineapple juice - can be substituted with ¼ cup calamansi juice, omit the vinegar. You can also omit pineapple juice entirely and use 1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoon vinegar.
- Filipino soy sauce - you can substitute it with 3 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce.
- Sugar - use 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar for a much sweeter beef tapa.
- To cook TAPSILOG in one pan - start with frying the eggs, followed by the beef tapa then finally the garlic fried rice. The flavor of the tapa will be infused into the rice.
- Cooking time for extra-thin slices (sukiyaki/shabu-shabu cut): Fry all at once using a wide shallow pan. Let the water evaporate and cook until the beef turns brown or crispy (if preferred). Add more oil as needed. Using this type of meat is very forgiving. There’s no need to worry about overcooking the beef.
- Storage: Marinated beef can last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and up to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator thoroughly before cooking.
Originally published on Aug 2018. Updated April 18, 2022.Riverten Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.