Beef Tapa - Feastful Fork
Philippines Appetizers Beef Breakfast Dinner Filipino Lunch Meats and Seafoods

How to Cook the Best Beef Tapa

What is Filipino beef tapa?

Here is your best beef tapa recipe! Beef tapa is cured beef slices. I guess that is the simplest I can put it. Beef slices that are cured with salt and other spices, dried and/or fried slowly, and best served with plain or fried rice and vinegar on the side. Older beef tapa recipes required beef slices to be marinated in spices, sundried and fried – or saved for later.

These days, sun-drying tapa is not anymore practiced as we can still achieve the beef tapa taste, even without that step. It also makes the meat too dry somehow. Beef tapa’s rather thick sauce from its marinate and the heat on the pan while it cooks produce some super yummy taste that we, Filipinos, describe as “ulam na” which denotes “good enough” or “good enough with rice as is.” That is referring to the sauce. What about the key ingredient: beef? You can just imagine!

Tapa is also good with other meats, chicken being the most popular. Tapa, by the way, is Tagalog term that means smoked or dried. This is a popular Filipino breakfast dish!  It is also served as an appetizer, or as a main course for lunch or dinner. Which means, it can be served anytime. Truly Filipino.


Beef tapa – family favorite through the years

If you are looking for the best beef tapa recipe, look no further. This post results from many attempts to perfect beef tapa – from my mom’s kitchen to my own, and from sampling and dissecting beef tapa versions from Filipino restaurants in my home country, and, from the kitchens of a few of my friends.

Mom’s beef tapa recipe is for keeps! When I collected my mom’s recipes in the book “there is no oven in Inang’s kitchen,” beef tapa is definitely a feature. The same beef tapa recipe I am sharing with you here. I may not have perfected my mom’s rendition of beef tapa, but I come close. Proof? When my kids say “this is like Inang’s tapa!” That is a complement to the max for a daughter and now a mom who is “yours truly.”

I have tried to include as much information about each recipe as possible so that you can make your own version at home. I hope this helps you create your very own beef tapa!


Beef tapa in Filipino restaurants as a test for the taste of home

Recently, I noticed that beef tapa has become more and more available in various restaurants in the Philippines. As is the case, my brother (Francis, that is) finds it interesting to compare the varying but similar tastes of different beef tapas from restaurants we visit. Whichever comes close to the taste of home is best. That is right, right? The taste of home, whether we admit it or not, makes eating out sometimes a worthwhile adventure – ironic as it may seem.


What makes the best beef tapa

Choices of tender beef slices. You can purchase a pound beef sirloin in chunks or big cuts, if you wish, and slice them thinly with a sharp knife in a single layer.

It is also in the marinate, to put it bluntly. Perfecting the marinate for beef tapa is perfecting its taste. Meat is meat. What we cook with them is what makes the difference. In beef tapa, that is literally the case.

Mom said that meats are best marinated for a maximum of half an hour, or they become rubbery! Mom, I am sorry, but this is not always the case. That tip appeared in the book I mentioned earlier. Not to negate that, however, the tip works in some recipes. But it is not a general rule.

Anyway, marinating beef tapa is one rule-breaker. The longer you marinate it, the better the juices become part of the meat, and that is where beef tapa is excellent, out-of-this-world yummy. A tablespoon of brown sugar will give it a boost. 

Let’s do it, here’s our recipe.

Enjoy and please share your experience in cooking the best tapa in the world!


How to store beef tapa

Beef tapa can be easily stored, and properly covered, in the fridge. If leftovers are to be eaten on the same day, they can be left on the counter (properly covered again) and eaten every now and then before the next meal! Just kidding, but that’s what really happens.

They can also be frozen and will last for weeks. Thaw them and heat in the microwave or on the pan with about two tablespoons of water. 


Cooking tips

  • To cut the meat into thin slices, use a sharp knife and slice across the grain. To make cutting easier, let the meat thaw out for a few minutes before using a knife.
  • Sirloin steak is very tender and requires only a few minutes of cooking. To substitute tougher cuts such as bottom rounds, add about 1/2 cup of water and cook the meat for about 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients and cooking for another 20 minutes.




clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Inang's Beef Tapa

Filipino Beef Tapa

  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Cuisine: Filipino


Cured slices of beef and fried in a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cooking time varies depending on the heat and your preferred doneness. Best for steamed white rice or any fried rice. My bet? Garlic rice and chopped fresh tomatoes on the side!  The most popular, however, is a dipping sauce made from rice vinegar, a pinch of salt, and minced garlic. Yummy! 


  • 1 kg beef sirloin thin slices
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
  • ½ cup calamansi juice or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp regular white sugar (or brown sugar)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tbsps cooking oil


  1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and mix well. We add sugar for sweetness, so if you prefer less sugar, it is also acceptable.
  2. Add beef, cover and refrigerate overnight, or for about 6 hours.
  3. Heat cooking oil in a pan. Line beef slices on the pan, leaving the marinate liquid aside.
  4. Fry both sides till slightly brown.
  5. Beef tapa should be ready. At this point, however, you may add half the marinate liquid and continue to fry the beef till all liquid evaporates. This process will make the beef tapa a bit sticky but tastier and less dry.

How to Cook Filipino Beef Tapa – from Marcie at My Mothers’ Kitchens

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating