Beef Tapa Recipe (Tapa King)
One of my favorite beef tapa to order for delivery is the Tapa Queen of Tapa King. (I know that sounds weird but for non-Filipino readers but Tapa King is an All Day Breakfast Fast Food in the Philippines and one of their best sellers is the dish called Tapa Queen.)
Between the Queen and King, the runaway winner is the Queen and its not hard to understand why. A spicy, sweet, and garlicky piece of sirloin beef, plus fried rice and egg, it calls to the very essence of what a Pinoy breakfast is all about. A huge meal with all the flavors that we like -sweet, spicy, and sour to break the fast! Because for some reason, when we think of tapa, we automatically think of Tapsilog. When we think of Tapa, we think of Tapsilog. We think of home-cooked meals and comfort food, no-frills and no pretensions.
A bit of Tapa history
It started out as a trend, but now, all-day breakfast – the modern tapsihan is a popular alternative to the well-known burger chains. Slowly, it has become no longer just breakfast and the Tapsilog trio of Tapa, sinangag, and itlog, became an all-day meal for hungry Pinoys who wants a quick but satisfying dish.
The Filipino Tapa may be a family to the Spanish Tapa, which is a type of appetizer or snack and is usually served in small servings or “plate”. Our tapa is slivers of cured meat, usually preserved in vinegar.
In Southern Tagalog, tapa is the root word of “tinapahan” or smoked. This is what we do to preserve fish like tuna. With very little fire and lots of smoke from coconut husks, the fish (or meat) is slowly cooked until they are deemed fit for storage without getting bad. We also have the coconut meat smoker house which is called “tapahan”.
I’m not sure how this is related to the beef tapa as we know now but I remember that we used to sun dry beef tapa after marinating. Though now, with the advent of new technology such as the refrigerator and ease of access to preservatives, we prepare the beef tapa recipe differently, I can only surmise that tapa means to preserve by smoking or drying.
So of course, since it’s not optimal to be constantly going out or having the Tapa Queen delivered, we tried cooking this Beef Tapa Recipe ala Tapa King at home!
Tips and tricks of a good beef tapa
It starts with a good marinade of course. The original tapa should be garlicky with a hint of sour. The meat should be marinated long enough to be flavorful without changing its texture. The Filipino Beef Tapa should also be tender. You can achieve this by using the right cut of beef and slicing it against the grain.
When I was young, my mother would wake up early to get the “lomo” beef, the tenderloin. If you miss out or budget would not allow it, you can also use other parts of the meat. You can buy skirt steak, flat iron steak, and flap meat are similar cuts you can use.
The trick to a softer tapa is in cutting against the grain. The acid on the marinade acts as a tenderizer as well. But the ultimate trick is the one used by Chinese cooks! I learned how to use baking soda from them to tenderize the meat. It’s quite easy. Massage 2 teaspoons of baking soda to a kilo of meat, leave it on for 15 minutes then wash it before marinating. Tada! Soft and tender tapa! It’s a secret I don’t even tell my husband about and he always wonders why my tapa is not chewy. Finally, the last trick is in the cooking. Make sure your pan is thoroughly heated before putting in oil. Then don’t crowd the pan when cooking. That’s it!
Ready to cook? Here’s my Beef Tapa Recipe -Tapa King Version!
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