Filipino beef tapa consists of marinated beef slices that are tender, moist, and full of flavor. Serve with an egg and garlic fried rice for an all-day breakfast called "tapsilog."
You might like pork adobo, another Filipino favorite which has a similar flavor profile.
What is tapsilog? It is the most popular “silog” breakfast in the Philippines. Tapsilog is a portmanteau of Filipino words tapa, sinangag (fried rice), and itlog (egg).
It is served with atchara (pickled green papaya), tomatoes, and cucumbers. Sawsawan, a condiment of vinegar and chilies, is almost mandatory.
Other variations for “silog” breakfasts include:
- Longsilog with longganisa or sweet sausages
- Tocilog with tocino or cured pork/chicken
- Bangsilog with fried bangus or milkfish
What makes a good beef tapa (tapsilog)
A good beef tapa is tender, moist, and flavorful. Using the right cut of beef and slicing it against the grain will help you achieve this.
It is marinated long enough without changing its texture. Then seared quickly over high heat without drying it out.
Ingredients you'll need
Notes and substitutions
- Beef: Flank steak is a great choice — tender, marinates well, and reasonably priced. Skirt steak, flat iron steak, and flap meat are similar cuts. You can always use sirloin (top sirloin and bottom sirloin or tri-tip) and chuck steak. If you don't mind spending more, boneless short ribs with their deep marbling are tender and flavorful.
- Vinegar: It adds a tangy flavor and helps tenderize the meat. Use cane, white, or rice vinegar. You can also use calamansi juice or lemon juice.
How to make this recipe
(1)Grate or finely mince the garlic. (2)Combine the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of oil, sugar, onion powder, and ground pepper (to taste). Mix together.
PRO TIP: Blend the marinade to create a homogeneous mixture, so the meat can better absorb the flavors. Plus, you won't have to worry about burning those bits of garlic.
You can partially freeze the meat for about an hour to make slicing easier.
(3)Slice the beef thinly (about ¼ inch) against the grain (across the muscle fibers). This is important to ensure the meat is tender and easy to chew.
(4)Marinate for at least an hour to overnight. Don't marinate it longer than 24 hours — the marinade is acidic and may change the texture of the meat.
(5)Set a skillet over high heat. Once hot and almost smoking, add a thin coating of oil. Sear the meat in a single layer for about 2 minutes on each side.
PRO TIP: Do not overcrowd the pan so they can sear properly and not steam. You will end up cooking them longer if they steam, making them dry and rubbery.
How to serve
Like any other ulam (main dish), beef tapa is best paired with rice. You can serve it with a fried egg and garlic fried rice to make it "tapsilog."
How to store and reheat
Freshly cooked beef tapa is best since it tends to dry out as it sits. Any leftovers should be refrigerated and consumed within three to four days.
The best way to warm beef tapa is to heat it quickly over high heat on a pan. You can also microwave it briefly, but not too much, or the meat will become tough.
Frequently asked questions
You may freeze the beef in its marinade to prolong its shelf life. Defrost overnight in the fridge and cook as directed.
Choose beef with good marbling, the thin lines of fat between the muscles. The fat melts when cooked, adding flavor and moisture.
Marinating also helps keep the meat moist. Most importantly, the meat should not be overcooked, so they don't dry out.
The first step is to slice the meat thinly and against the grain. Cook them briefly over high heat, so they don't get rubbery.
The acid in the marinade also helps tenderize the meat. Tough cuts may also benefit from pounding.
More about Filipino beef tapa (Tapsilog)
Here are more frequently asked questions about Filipino beef tapa (tapsilog) including extra tips, troubleshooting, and other information.
Watch how I make it here
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Filipino Beef Tapa (Tapsilog)
- A skillet
- 1 pound flank steak (see note)
- 6 cloves garlic grated or finely minced
- ¼ cup cane, white, or rice vinegar sub: calamansi or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce sub: light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil more for cooking
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar sub: any sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of oil, sugar, onion powder, and ground pepper. Mix together.
- Slice the beef thinly (about ¼ inch) against the grain (across the muscle fibers).
- Marinate for at least an hour to overnight.
- Blending the marinade creates a homogeneous mixture, so the meat can better absorb the flavors. Plus, you won't have to worry about burning those bits of garlic.
- Do not overcrowd the pan so they can sear properly and not steam. You will end up cooking them longer if they steam, making them dry and rubbery.
- Serve beef tapa with a fried egg and garlic fried rice to make it "tapsilog."