Chicken, Duck & Turkey

Ostrich meat, tapa style

Ah, the interesting things one learns when looking for information about something else…

I was looking for a good culinary definition of tapa and was about to post that it shouldn’t be confused with the Spanish tapas when I realized that the two are actually related. More than that, I just realized that although there is no proper English translation for pulutan, it is actually the Filipino word for the Spanish tapas. Hence, the practice of eating pulutan with beer is an acquired Spanish custom. Wikipedia has an interesting etymology on tapa. ostrich, tapa style

Anyway, tapa in Filipino cuisine means cured or seasoned (sometimes dried) beef, often fried and served with rice. Nowadays, the meal consisting of tapa, sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg) is called tapsilog. My daughter Sam is a big fan of tapa while her sister Alex goes for tocino (cured pork). While it is easy enough to find good quality tocino, finding good tapa can be a problem. We have had many unfortunate experiences of buying tapa which, after cooking, turned out to be tough as rubber.

When I discovered ostrich meat a couple of years ago and started using it for stir fries like ostrich chop suey, I realized that the fatless, tender meat would be ideal for making tapa.

To make the most of your ostrich meat, stay away from bottled tapa marinades. Ostrich meat has a wonderful flavor and it would be a pity to drown it in marinade. To bring out the natural flavors of the ostrich meat, I decided it would be best to stick to the basics–sea salt and ground pepper.

Cut the ostrich meat (against the grain) into 1/8-inch slices. Semi-frozen meat is easier to slice. So, partially thaw the ostrich meat then slice it. Place the meat in a bowl and season with sea salt and ground pepper. Work the salt and pepper into the meat with your hands.

Heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable cooking oil in a frying pan. When the cooking oil starts to smoke, start cooking the meat in batches. Cook just enough pieces so that they stay in a single layer. Keep the oil at a very high temperature so that when the meat changes its color, the edges would be lightly browned at the same time. If the slices are thin enough, cooking the ostrich meat should take no more than a minute or so. The thing with ostrich meat is that the longer you cook it, the tougher and drier it gets. So, don’t attempt to fry the meat to a crisp. With the price of ostrich meat, you don’t really want it to go to waste.

As soon as one batch is cooked, drain the meat on paper towels and cook the next batch and so on, and so forth.

Serve your ostrich tapa with fried eggs, sunny side up, and garlic fried rice.

If you happen to cook more than your family can consume in a single meal, just store any leftover ostrich tapa in the fridge in a tightly sealed container. You can make Chinese-style fried rice with bits of ostrich meat the following day. I’ll post the recipe for the fried rice tomorrow. :)

[tags]ostrich+meat, tapa, tapsilog, Filipino+cooking, Filipino+food, Filipino+recipes, Pinoy+recipes, Pinoy+cooking, food+blog, cooking+blog, Food+and+Drink[/tags]

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