Continuing on my theme of easy and economical dishes (see previous post), I recently made some tapang baka (cured beef) at home. I did the modern version which is really more of a marinated beef than a cured beef but it still had the same taste and none of the hibbie jibbies that might occur if I air dried or otherwise salt curedbeef like they did/do traditionally. In the “old days,” I suspect that tapa was a result of the lack of refrigeration and the need to make beef or any other meat last for several more days. So as with ham in other countries, we treated meat with salt to preserve it. To make, I purchased about a kilo or more of medium sliced beef (sold as Filipino beefsteak cut, whatever part of the moo thatâ€™s from) and sliced it into smaller pieces. The finer the quality of the meat, the less tough the resulting tapa should be. I then used a meat pounder to smash the beef to tenderize, thin and spread it out. I did this instead of the more traditional torture process that involves a spiked mallet that seems to put lots of holes in the meatâ€¦ After that I placed all of the meat in a mixing bowl and readied the spicesâ€¦
To the meat, add about 3-4 tablespoons of dark soya sauce or Kikkoman if you donâ€™t have the dark stuff, about 8-10 smashed cloves of garlic (less if you arenâ€™t a big garlic fan), a tablespoon or so of sugar, 3 tablespoons or more of kosher or rock salt and some ground pepper. Mix well and put into plastic containers (I use disposable as the garlic smell can permeate Tupperware type containers) and let â€œcureâ€ in the refrigerator for two days before frying up or putting in the freezer. The meat will be redolent with garlic after 48 hours. I found that PHP250 worth of beef easily made 8-10 large servings of beef tapa. All in, the average serving cost was about PHP30. Compare this with the prepared tapa sold in the grocery that was probably made with the day old or more meat that didnâ€™t sellâ€¦ With a little effort and some freezing, you can easily make enough for two or three meals in just 20 minutes or so. It would take you longer to defrost the stuff from the grocery! Fry in a hot pan with vegetable oil. I like my tapa still tender while others like it hard as a rock. Serve with rice and vinegar and a fried egg. I like to have it for dinner with vinegar and lots of atcharra (papaya pickles)!