Tapang Baka / Beef Tapa

Continuing on my theme of easy and economical dishes (see previous post), I recently made some tapang baka (cured beef) at home. atapa1I 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 that’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 meat… After that I placed all of the meat in a mixing bowl and readied the spices…

To the meat, add about 3-4 tablespoons of dark soya sauce or Kikkoman tapa2if you don’t have the dark stuff, about 8-10 smashed cloves of garlic (less if you aren’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 “cure” 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 didn’t sell… 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)!


41 Responses

  1. I really think that adding the cost of meals is a great idea, MM.I’m sure readers would find it quite helpful. An Indonesian lady once made me a cabbage dish that I still make every so often. Cut some cabbage into really thin strips and so with a big onion and some red chili if you desire a little punch. Saute onion in some oil and then add chili and the cabbage. Cook till it’s still crunchy to the bite and then break an egg and mix well.Season with S&P. Turn heat off. Sprinkle some black Sesame seeds on top and serve hot.

  2. Where do you get your recipes from? Do you get them from cookbooks, etc and just adapt them to suit your taste or do you make recipes up from scratch (based on years of cooking)?

  3. Hardly any recipe is really original (mind you, except for the Sardinenuts recipe of lee in the comments of an earlier post which must be totally unique)and I would rarely claim a recipe as purely my own. I generally use themes of ingredients in similar ways… for example fish, lemon, butter capers is a classic and I just play with proportions. I like tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic in many different forms. I also own several hundred cookbooks so most of them come from there and I mention them when I lift a recipe in its original form. Baking for example is more exact so I have to use someone else’s recipes… can’t just wing it. In the case of tapa, I researched and reviewed several recipes then just went back to the way I always used to do it… In the case of the cabbage, I just go with gut feel that so much ham is a strong flavoring, it generally goes with onion and cabbage and so I do wing it. Does that help at all or have I confused you further?

  4. Thanks Marketman I’m so flattered but my recipe is not really original it is just inspired by some local pulutan of sardines, siling labuyo, calamansi juice and crushed skyflakes mashed in a bowl and shared with a common fork.
    haha! This pulutan, sumsuman as we call it here, is quite common among rum drinkers here in Bacolod City, specially college kids who pool whatever is left of their allowances for the weekly inuman on Friday.
    In the Sardinenuts case I just replaced one with the other, skyflakes with nagaraya, and since there is the presence of a stove, fried it all in a pan (very depreciated pan).

    Thanks for this post on tapa, I have a very sharp butcher’s knife at home and I would love to practice making thin slices of beef. And your marinade is sooo simple…really would like to do this soon… Saturday maybe…
    Why is it called Tapa? Tapang Baka. Tapang = Brave, Brave = Tough. Tapang Baka = Tough Beef. the more hungry I am, the cornier I get, I guess early lunch will remedy this. bye.

  5. i don’t know if this will work on tapa, but the cantonese secret in making tough beef (as in the palengke steak) tender is a pinch of baking soda on the timpla. if you are familiar with the chinese beef steak (usually served covered in some red thinck sauce with onions- thats the secret why its as tender as rolled up tissue)

  6. Thanks for this recipe Marketman! This goes next to the homemade tocino recipe I got from Iska. This is much better (and more economical) than buying the ready-made versions from the supermarkets! Can’t wait to try it out! :)

    (lee! thanks for sharing the background of sardinenuts!)

  7. lee, that’s what my husband used to have as pulutan as well back in his college days, sila naman yata canned tuna at skyflakes :)

  8. This simple recipe you shared will end the breakfast treks I make to country waffles to eat their angus beef tapa with garlic fried rice (w/c costs a whopping 200 something per plate)

  9. Ichabod, if you want to splurge buy really good sirloin or tenderloin and follow the rest of the instructions. At an increased PHP50-60 a serving it will be extravagant but still far less than a restaurant version!

  10. hi! i’m a new viewer of your blog n it’s really great..n economical. would try your version of tapa this week, i like my tapa with a bit of fat so i use rib-eye, tender meat too! hey want to try adding vinegar to your marinade? that’s what i do with my version of tapa… well just in case you would want to try ?! thanks again for the nice recipes…

  11. We have right about the same recipe, Marketman! I just add a splash of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and use honey instead which gives the tapa a “rounder” hint of sweetness compared with sugar — couldn’t put it any other way; a leaf or two of laurel and then freshly cracked pepper. Ay, sarap! Question, MM– What’s new to me is that you freeze the stuff after marinating or curing for 2 days? Is that to keep it longer? How long can meat be safely marinated before e coli and whathaveyou sets in? Asking because I’ve always stayed away from those supermarket-marinated stuff which I suppose use questionable meat — sorry for being the culinary cynic. Sa hirap ng buhay at sa abilidad ng Pinoy, who’s to say establishments aren’t using smelly meat? Which brings me to another point, when supermarkets put meat up on sale — is that a snide marketing ploy to dispose of nearly-bad meat?

  12. After curing for two days, I freeze it for convenience as I tend to make tapa and tocino in bulk. I think you can leave the marinated meat in the fridge at least another day or two without risking your health! The supermarket tapa and tocino is almost definitely made with day old or more meat. After a day, the meat starts to look green but I read in my research that it is still very edible, just unsightly, therefore the grocers marinate it and sell it that way. The advantage of doing this at home is the ability to make it the way you really want to taste it. I like the vinegar and honey variations that do tweak a classic in a very nice way.

  13. I get my tapa in a much simpler way from Guadalupe market. I ask the meatshop vendor to make the tapa for me from her best meats. She then adds a ready mixture for free. Tastes better than most tapas I’ve tasted in Metro Manila.

  14. Try the tapa sold in the San Andres market. There is a vendor there that uses only top sirloin. It’s the best tapa in Manila. Just go to the meat section and ask where you can find the tapa vendor, The key is not to overcook the meat. Just a minute or 2 of frying on each side since the meat is so tender. I don’t like it when the meat is so tough which makes it like jerky.

  15. one of the best tapa i ever tasted is in the UST hospital. whew! they have a very delicios tapa there. manaminamis na ma anghang anghang pa.! it’s in the pay ward

  16. Interesting HUH! I’ve read one recipe for this “Tapa” and says after marinated for at least 12 hrs. It should be put under the sun? Is it advisable?

  17. Jerry, the classic tapa recipes do rely on some air drying in the hot sun, just like daing na isda. However, because I am not a food scientist and worried about growing the wrong bacteria, I don’t do this. I suspect you need to inhibit bacteria growth with the heavy salting before you dry it…

  18. wow, i have learned a lot from just one simple tapa recipe and all your blogs…..it is very enlightening to hear alot of your inputs and am sure if put all together would make a great tapa. very excited to make this tapa. thanks to u all.

  19. Wow. Thanks for posting this. I am a newbie in cooking and I love tapang baka. I would definitely try this one here in Dubai.

  20. thanks for your website, MM! really encouraging; that someone like me who’s clueless in the kitchen can’t wait to try your tocino and tapa recipes. they seem easy. have to ‘conquer’ the kitchen for my hubby. …

    kudos, MM. please do post some more easy recipes…just think of us who are strangers to the kitchen.. ;)


  21. I’m not really a fan of tapa but this is definitely a must try for me. Thanks for the recipe, MM.

  22. My grandma’s version of tapa is using fish sauce and kalamansi. She just marinates the meat (maybe beef or pork) overnight or so, and fries it.. Actually tastes good..

    But going to try this one, too.. ;)

  23. Thanks MM for this recipe! I need this since we usually store meat in our fridge when we got it in bulk. I’m currently in Bahrain and its hard to find a good beef! It’s my first time to try this recipe! Goodluck to me!lol

  24. Thanks for the recipe MM. I will give this a try and air dry the beef in my dehydrator. I have successfully made yummy jerky in the dehydrator and am thinking this would be the case for the tapa. Just to be on the safe side though, I do store my jerky in the freezer and will do the same for the tapa.

  25. I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been craving tapa a LOT recently. Has anyone else tried drying tapa in a dehydrator? I don’t remember the texture of uncooked tapa so I have no idea how long to dry it. If anyone has any idea of the temperature and the time required for tapa, let me know!
    Also, is there a significant taste and texture difference between tapa that has been dried and tapa straight from the marinade?

  26. Oh what a coincidence! We had beef tapa for supper tonight. I marinated it with tocino mix that is in a package I purchased from an Asian store in Albany, New York. I have actually been using this for years now and just experimented it and it really tastes yummy. First, I sliced my beef thinly, put in a plastic bowl, pour in the tocino mixture. And everything here is eyeball measuring ( of course this depends on the quantity of your sliced beef): soy sauce, kalamansi or lemon juice, salt and pepper and powdered garlic. I marinate overnight. I fry using canola oil. Try it and you will enjoy and it taste like tapa. Enyoy!

  27. Thank you Marketman — I enjoyed reading all the entries in your blogsite. Nice to know that it’s okay to deviate a little from the original ingredients required. …. I also love your writing style — cooking seems more fun and interesting. Thanks too for tidbits that anyone can use.

  28. Hi Marketman (again):
    May I know what your comment: “Your comment is awaiting moderation” means? Just curious.

  29. Julie, for first time commenters, it requires that the moderator, me, reads it and manually approves it. It is to prevent clever spammers, really obscene or offensive comments or comments that don’t have anything to do with the topic at hand. But once the first comment has been moderated, all subsequent comments will immediately appear, and only if there is something objectionable will it be possibly subsequently removed. Some degree of moderation is required with a blog of this size as out of 1,000 folks who visit it, 998 are perfectly normal while 1-2 or a bit whacky…

  30. this was a very good tapa recipe! i actually tried it last week and it was good but im gonna try it again! this time curing it in the ref as stated. im sure it’ll be just as good as the first time! (^_^) i love the recipe. i’ll prolly share it with friends here in the US!

  31. Keep it simple and short, ingredients&mode of preparation is enough.

    I hate to read through a lengthy novel when I’m cooking.

  32. I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now but this is my first time to comment and I must thank you for these kinds of recipes. I’m gonna try this on the weekend

  33. I tried tapang baka and it was so nice. How about tapang usa… how to make it?

  34. hi MM! finally tried one of your recipes and it tastes really good. Had a good breakfast with my girlfriend this morning. thanks a lot for sharing!

  35. Has anybody ever tried drying beef tapa in a 50 deg C oven overnight? I did this with pork belly strips marinated Chinese-style and it worked beautifully. I stuck a skewere through the strips and hung it from the top shelf and placed a baking sheet under to catch any drips. A very small amount of fat rendered out, which was what I was actually aiming for. I’m no food scientist/physicist but maybe someone out there is. Does the overnight oven-drying approximate sun-drying sans the flies and creepy crawlies?



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