Monday, August 04, 2008

Tapping For Tapsilog

Tapsilog and a Coke.

Amongst the urban sprawl that is Metro Manila, in the tiny hamlet (and seat of economic power) of Makati lies an unassuming eatery open twenty-four hours a day. I'd like to tell you the name or give you the address, but I can't remember it since I never knew the details of either (my friends would always drive). This was a joint for late night eating after a night of senseless (and sensual) debauchery with friends in the capital - living the very definition of Men Behaving Badly.

After a night of too much drinking, too much dancing, too much smoking and too many chicks, one piles into the car with his barkada (gang or crew) and goes in search of the perfect Filipino late-night malady: Tapsilog.

Beef Tapa.

Let me tell you, at three in the morning, there is nothing more soothing and comforting that a plate of tapsilog. It's greasy, fatty and completely bad for your body while being good for your soul. You're there, amongst friends, joking and laughing about the nights' adventures, making fun of each other and those really geeky looking guys on table twelve, while checking out the girls at table twenty-two.

They're pretty hot. You're pretty toasted. It's a recipe for love but the tapsilog is so good you don't want it to go cold while chatting up some girls and trying to convince them to go to Victoria with you. You decide to pass on the girls until later while trying to maintain some semblance of being cool to them and to your friends. Once the plate hits your table: passing out is not an option.


As I was prepping the various ingredients I picked up over the weekend, I started to get hungry and visions of tapsilog started dancing in my mind. It was either a grilled ribeye steak or tapsilog and you can guess which one won out.

But just what is this tapsilog anyway? First off, it's a contraction of three words: the actual foods in the dish. Beef Tapa, Sinangag and Itlog. The dish itself is a Philippine institution and it was time to make some for myself - senseless debauchery excluded.

Making tapsilog is relatively easy. Just take some thinly sliced beef - nice cuts are best, but any cut will do, just be sure to cut across the grain. Marinate the beef in a mixture of oyster sauce, crushed garlic and soy sauce for an hour (better overnight). When ready, pan fry in oil to sear the sides and set aside.

Sinangag means garlic fried rice. Best to use day old rice that's slightly dried out. Heat up some oil in a pan, add a bunch of chopped garlic and fry until golden, add the rice, stir, heat, season with salt and pepper and you're done. Plate.

Fried Itlog

Itlog is just basic fried eggs. Crack a couple of eggs into hot, oiled skillet and pan fry. I prefer mine sunny side up.

From there, just make a little pile of rice, lay the eggs on top and put the meat to side. Done. Simple. Easy. Typically, I like a little more salt on the tapa, as well as a little sukang maasim(vinegar, garlic, onions and chili peppers) for dipping.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday night watching reruns of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on the ABC Family channel.