Filipino Beef Tapa
Family Table | Mains

Make Filipino Beef Tapa at Home

August 23, 2017

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Beef tapa has been and always will be one of my favorite breakfast mains. I remember when I was growing up, they would spread out the marinated beef strips on welded wire and then left in the sun to dry out. These make for some pretty chewy tapa if they were cut too thick, but pounded thin enough these were super crunchy and so good once fried.  Add rice and I was one happy camper.

But the beef tapa I make doesn´t have to be dried. One of these days when I am feeling up to it, I will put some in the dehydrator (we bought one to sustain our beef jerky addiction a few years ago!) and see how it tastes.

These days, I don´t usually have rice for breakfast, only when I go back to the Philippines for holidays. Having a couple slice of bread with cheese and coffee is easier and gets me out of the house faster. But beef tapa makes for a good “breakfast for lunch”. Becca loves eating this as well. The secret is to pound the beef and get it as thin as possible.

I have tried a few recipes, and the one I am making now is what I like best. I believe I got it from a column by Reggie Aspiras in The Inquirer, but when I was googling it and looking for a link to the original recipe, I couldn´t find it anymore. The recipe I am sharing here has been adapted to my tastes and I´ve changed it just a bit. It does need more ingredients than most beef tapa recipes out there, but I almost always have everything available in my pantry. Also, it doesn´t need calamansi, which is a good thing as it is very hard to come by here in Switzerland.


 Let´s make beef tapa!

Gather your ingredients.

beef tapa ingredients

A note on the beef slices. It will be easier for you to slice the beef once it has been in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how big the piece of beef is). Then you need a very sharp knife to slice it as thinly as possible. Remove any excess fat if you are not a fan. You should also cut the beef across the grain. I don´t really know how to show that, so here is a very nice informative article from Serious Eats on how to slice against the grain. Comes complete with pictures to show you how it looks.

I also then give the beef strips a good pounding with a meat tenderizer. This ensures thin, tender slices of beef. Also, I have no clue as to beef cuts, I just get whatever hunk of beef is on sale at the grocery. So unless you got a nice piece of steak (which you shouldn´t be making into beef tapa anyway!) pounding the beef strips ensures that they are tender.

Get a head of garlic and pound it. I use a mortar and pestle as it then goes quite fast. You may use a knife on the chopping board as well, of course. Now this is a lot of garlic, roughly 1/3 cup, so if you wish a little less garlicky beef tapa, use around half a head. Remove the skins.

head of garlic

In a bowl, mix together the beef strips, pounded garlic and all other marinade ingredients. Mix and massage well with your hands. Really get in there.

beef tapa

Ideally marinate for an hour in the fridge before frying. What I do as well, after the beef is marinated, I separate the rest into freezer bags and freeze for future consumption.

We don´t only eat beef tapa as breakfast, this has become an ingredient in a lot of other dinners. I´ve also made these into beef shawarma and beef noodles. I will share those recipes soon as well.

Fry the beef tapa!

Then once the beef is well marinated, fry it up! I like it a bit charred with crispy edges! Heat up your frying pan to medium high heat, add in a tablespoon of oil of your choice and lay out the beef tapa pieces in a single layer. Fry to desired doneness. Enjoy with rice and a fried egg! I also love these with tomatoes or some vegetables when I eat these for lunch.


Filipino Beef Tapa


Serves 5

Make Filipino Beef Tapa at Home

Perfectly marinated beef tapa is perfect for breakfast with egg and rice!

1 hr, 15 Prep Time

10 minCook Time

1 hr, 25 Total Time

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  • 500 grams of beef, sliced thinly and pounded (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pounded garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Knorr or Maggi liquid seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional (to give it a silkier look)
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a bowl, mix together the beef strips, pounded garlic and all other marinade ingredients.
  2. Mix and massage well with your hands. Really get in there.
  3. Ideally marinate for an hour in the fridge before frying or freezing.
Cuisine: Filipino | Recipe Type: Main


I like to freeze the extra beef tapa for future meals! This makes a great make-ahead meal.


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