Tapsilog, a popular Filipino all-day breakfast dish, is a combination of tapa (marinated beef), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg, traditionally fried sunny side up). Tapcitlog substitutes noodles for the fried rice and the accompanying egg is soft boiled, not fried.
I Googled the term, no one seems to have used it before, so, I’m going to claim that it’s a CASA Veneracion invention.
But what’s behind the idea? Consciously, none. My daughter, Alex, was just playing in the kitchen. She didn’t think, however, that she was giving a new twist on an iconic Filipino all-day breakfast dish. We didn’t even have a name for the dish until two things happened.
First, a story about a new cafe that opened in the neighborhood. Second, my frustration in buying new furniture.
Alex told me that there’s a new cafe that opened not ten minutes from our house. She checked out the menu and felt frustrated. They’re not offering anything new nor unique, she said. The pasta dishes are the same as those you find in other cafes, so are the sandwiches and cakes.
What’s so surprising, I asked rhetorically. Filipinos are famous for being formulaic. Very few dare (or have the money) to experiment and take risks. Just look at our movie and TV industries. Everything is same-old-same-old because producers just want to make profit. And the safest way is to use a tried-and-tested formula. Light romances, dramas with lots of screaming and slapping, comedies with the same brand of jokes (that often makes fun of persons rather than circumstances) and so on.
It’s the same in the food industry ninety-nine per cent of the time.
The second incident that triggered tapcitlog was my frustration in finding new furniture. We’re renovating. We want to sell our oversized furniture and get smaller and more streamlined ones. We’ve been hunting. The ones that fit into my idea of “modern and streamlined” cost two arms and two legs. The more affordable ones would look better in my grandmother’s house when she was a young wife.
I’d really like to support small businesses. I’d rather buy from them than from big companies. But furniture from these small businesses are so outdated. In design, in the choice of materials… Worse, you browse the products of half a dozen stores and you find that the designs look alike.
It was with these two things in mind that made me decide to name this dish tapcitlog. It’s a play on a traditional dish and an attempt to turn it into something new yet still familiar. It’s, well… an evolution of tapsilog.
Does the substitution of noodles for the fried rice make it less Filipino? Are you kidding me? In this day and age, how many Filipinos eat instant noodles for breakfast? A LOT. Not many families have the luxury of time to prepare a full meal in the morning.
Why not combine the modern-day phenomenon of eating instant noodles for breakfast with the traditional practice of serving a meat, egg and rice meal?
Tapcitlog (Tapa, Pancit at Itlog)
For the garlicky tapa
- 400 grams sukiyaki or yakiniku cut beef
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons liquid seasoning (Knorr or Worcestershire sauce)
To complete the dish
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- noodles for three people cooked and drained
- 3 eggs soft boiled
To season the noodles
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- sliced scallions
Marinate the beef
- Cut the thinly-sliced beef into strips about half an inch wide.
- Place the meat in a bowl, add the garlic, pepper and seasoning. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and let the meat marinate in the fridge overnight.
Cook the beef
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
- Spread the beef on the pan. Leave to sear for about two minutes then stir to break up lumps. Cook over high heat, stirring often, just until done. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Beef sliced so thinly should cook in about five minutes.
Season the noodles
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the noodle seasoning. Add the noodles and toss thoroughly.
Assemble the tapcitlog
- Divide the noodles among three bowls.
- Divide the cooked beef into three portions. Arrange over the noodles leaving the center hollow.
- Crack the soft boiled egg at the center of the bowl.
- Garnish the tapcitlog with sliced scallion before serving.