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.
- 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.
- Next, he marinates it for 10 hours in a basic mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and sugar.
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup vinegar
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
- 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.
- After 12 hours, the tapa looks like this…
- 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.
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.