The fried marinated beef is tapa, fried rice is sinangag and egg is itlog. Served together, the dish is tapsilog. It is served, along with other silog dishes, almost everywhere in the Philippines. There are humble versions served in carinderias, and there are fancy versions served in more expensive and presentable establishments.
The obvious question is what goes into the marinade to flavor the beef? To understand the marinating process, it is important to point out that, historically, there is no marinating involved in making tapa. Tapa is cured and dried beef quite similar to beef jerky. The beef is cut very thinly, rubbed with rock salt and dried in the sun. It was a method of preserving pricey meat to make it last a long time even without refrigeration.
That was then. That was long, long before I was born. Tapa, these days, is simply thin slices of beef marinated in seasonings and fried over intensely high heat until the edges are crisp.
But what is the marinade? Salt and nothing but salt will do. Want to add another layer of flavor? Combine salt with pepper. But if you want to give the beef a deeper color, use a bit of soy sauce or other liquid seasoning.
I combine Knorr liquid seasoning with Worcestershire sauce, and add black pepper and finely minced garlic. The seasonings are mixed into the beef and the meat marinates in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I just spread the beef in a heated non-stick pan. I don’t do anything to the meat during the first few minutes of cooking to allow the undersides to brown. Then, I just stir up the beef slices and cook them until no longer pink and the edges have developed a light crust.
For the garlic fried rice, there is a standalone recipe which is also linked to in the ingredients list in the recipe box below.
Beef, fried rice and egg (tapsilog)
- 500 grams yakiniku-cut beef
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons liquid seasoning I used Knorr — I do not recommend substituting soy sauce
- cooking oil for frying (not necessary if using a fatty cut of beef)
- 3 cups garlic fried rice
- 3 fried eggs
Marinate the beef
- Cut the yakiniku beef into half-inch strips.
- Place the beef in a bowl, and mix in the garlic, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning.
- Transfer the beef to a container with a tight cover and leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Cook the tapa
- Heat enough oil in a frying pan to reach a depth of about one-fourth inch (skip if using a fatty cut of beef).
- With the heat on HIGH, spread the marinated beef in the pan and leave to cook for about a minute before stirring to separate the pieces.
- Cook, stirring often, until the edges of the beef are lightly caramelized.
Assemble the tapsilog
- Ladle garlic fried rice on a plate.
- Spoon the tapa a la salpicao around it.
- Arrange an egg on top of the rice.