Making Tapa with Dad

by arnold on June 16, 2009

Ready to broil...

Tapa is Filipino cured beef that is similar to beef jerky, and when I was home last weekend, my dad was raving about the homemade tapa he started making recently. He was eager to show me how it’s done, so I pulled out my camera and followed him step by step.

  1. Dad uses three pounds of thinly sliced sirloin tip steaks that he gets at the local Mexican supermarket and cuts it into equal-sized strips with scissors.
  2. Cut into Strips
  3. Next, he marinates it for 10 hours in a basic mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and sugar.

    Tapa Marinade
    ½ cup soy sauce
    ½ cup vinegar
    6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 Tbsp. sugar

  4. Marinated for around 10 hours
  5. After marinating, the meat gets layered in a food dehydrator that will run for 12 hours. A dehydrator simplifies the process of making tapa, but if you don’t have one, you can always use Alton Brown’s box fan method, which Burnt Lumpia did when he made his tapa. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I do have a box fan, so I’m going to use this method next time.
    Dehydrate for 12 hours
  6. After 12 hours, the tapa looks like this…
  7. All dried out...If Lisa Lisa saw this, she’d say it was “all dried out.”
  8. My dad is insistent on broiling the tapa for two minutes a side because I think he’s averse to frying in general, but frying the tapa in a little oil is a great way to finish it off before serving. One of the most popular ways to enjoy it is for breakfast in tapsilog (tapa, garlic fried rice (sinangag) and eggs (itlog)), which is how I like to eat it.
  9. Homemade TapsilogTapsilog with Dad’s Homemade Tapa.

Last weekend I was home attending my high school reunion, so I’m not going to be home for Father’s Day this year. When I was a kid, it was my dad’s garlic fried rice that woke me up on Sunday mornings, and when I was out on my own, trying to replicate that simple dish was one of the reasons I started cooking. My mom had a stroke five years ago, and dad has been responsible for taking care of her—cooking all the meals, making sure she’s exercising and doing her therapy, and more importantly, keeping her smiling and laughing.

So this post is for you, dad. Happy Father’s Day, and I can’t wait to hear more of your culinary secrets.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lando June 16, 2009 at 10:03 am

This just brought back memories. My Aunty used to make me sinangag and eggs for breakfast when I was growing up. The smell of the garlic fried rice is enough to wake you up.

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Sheila June 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

Tapsilog is very much comfort food for me and reading this so early is making me crave it for breakfast! It sounds so good.

I’ve only recently discovered that there is also Thai beef jerky which tastes very similar and it’s served with a spicy sauce as an appetizer (or at least that’s how the Thai restaurant I go to serves it).

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Paul June 17, 2009 at 7:17 am

I really enjoy learning about all the different Filipino cuisines and how it is cooked. I’m glad your Dad was able to share his method with you. Thanks for sharing!

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beancounter June 18, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Yum! Looks good (and dry enough) to shred and directly mix with my garlic rice!

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alice June 21, 2009 at 11:19 am

This looks so good. I have never even heard of tapa. I think I may even have a dehydrator somewhere so I can make these.

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Arnold June 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

Lando, the combo of wok+hot oil+garlic is one of my enduring childhood memories.

Sheila, which Thai restaurant are you talking about? Is it in LA?

Paul, I’m hardly an expert, but I think most of the stuff I post is pretty easy :)

beancounter, I made SPAM/tapa fried rice this morning. A little salty, but good! :)

alice, if you don’t have a dehydrator, click on the Burnt Lumpia link above to see how to assemble one with a box fan and some air filters. :)

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Marvin June 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Awesome looking tapa! The downside to the fan method is you get long narrow strips, rather than the more traditional flat slices that you and your dad did. But otherwise, the box method works well.

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Sean June 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Looks so delicious! I am so going to try this myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Paul July 4, 2009 at 11:58 am

Hey Arnold, what’s on tap for this 4th of July? I was expecting to see a triple-layered bacon, chili cheese, jalapeno hot dog. C’mon, fire up the grill and let’s make some Arnold Artery Attackers!

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Marc @ NoRecipes July 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

MMmmm yum. Tapa and Tocino were my two favorite breakfast foods when I was in Manila.

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The Duo Dishes July 15, 2009 at 10:30 am

Good food and good memories. Very awesome.

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Mel @ bouchonfor2.com July 17, 2009 at 1:09 am

Really heart-felt and yummy post. So glad I discovered your blog. A fan already.

Re spaghetti post: Grew up with a Filipino nanny and ate a lot of Filipino spaghetti too… except she did not use ground beef and added frozen mixed vegetables. If I was good, I’d get a fried egg on top too with some soy sauce. DROOL.

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Arnold July 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

Mel, never heard of frozen veggies, but I imagine that fried eggs on top of Filipino spaghetti would be incredible.

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