Let’s Cook: Tapa (The Philippines)

Let’s Cook: Tapa (The Philippines)

Tapa is a Filipino dish made from cured meat like venison, mutton, and beef. Tapa is part of the dish tapsilog which is made of tapa (the meat), Sinangag(fried rice), and itlog (eggs). Tapa is a dried meat that can be cured or uncured, grilled or fried. The dish is easy to make and doesn’t have a lot of prep work involved, making it a dish anyone can prepare from the absolute beginner to the seasoned pro!


  • Lean Beef (round or flank steak works best)
  • ½ Cup of Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Cup of Soy Sauce
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons of Sugar
  • ¼ Tablespoon Black Pepper (fresh ground pepper is best)
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • Olive Oil


The Afternoon Before

Defrost the meat and massage a tablespoon of olive oil into it to provide some moisture. Place the meat in a Ziploc bag and let it rest in the fridge. Many tapa recipes do not call for this, so you can skip this step. However, if you prefer meat that isn’t dry, I recommend this step.

The Night Before

  • Blend lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl until it forms a paste-like consistency.
  • Coat the meat in the marinade. Make sure to rub the meat well so it is coated and the rub is well-integrated into the grain.
  • Place in Ziploc bag and let it sit overnight.


  • Remove meat from the fridge and cut the meat into thin strips along the bias. The strips will help it fry faster.
  • Place meat on paper towels to wick away excess liquid. Too much liquid will cause the meat to broil instead of fry. However, the prep work the day before will help meat stay juicy and tender.
  • Pour olive or Canola oil into a pan and heat using medium heat. Using too high a flame will burn your oil or cause it to catch fire.
  • When oil is heated, place the meat into the pan to begin frying.
  • Once meat is browned (it may look reddish thanks to the soy sauce), remove from oil.
  • Place on a cooling rack with a paper towel or pan underneath to drain excess cooking oil.
  • Serve with rice and eggs.

 –Joelle Halon

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