You probably grew up eating tapa this way, piled on garlic rice with a sunny-side-up egg for breakfast. Classic tapa calls for sirloin—a firm but flavorful cut. Compared to fatty beef belly, which we use in our modern tapa recipe, sirloin is super lean. Without fat to give it moisture, it can get dry and tough when overcooked.
An overnight marinade in a soy-garlic-sugar mixture softens the sirloin while providing flavor and chew. A quick pan-fry caramelizes the beef and reduces the marinade to a shiny, dark glaze. Round out the salty-sweet beef with atchara or vinegar.
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp crushed black pepper
- 800g beef sirloin, sliced about ½-inch thick against the grain
- neutral oil, for cooking
- fried garlic chips, for garnish
Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and crushed black pepper in a bowl. Add the sliced sirloin. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the beef marinate in the fridge, at least 1 hour to overnight.
Set a pan over high heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the beef in a single even layer. Fry until the meat caramelizes and forms a crust on one side, about 1 ½ minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce from the tapa has reduced and darkened. Set aside on a plate and repeat, working in batches, until all of the beef has been cooked.
Garnish the tapa with fried garlic chips. Serve with garlic rice, crispy fried eggs, pickles, and vinegar.