When I was a little girl, one of my favorite toys was a miniature clay pot set. We used to call this toy set in the Philippines “palayok-palayokan” (toy clay pots). It was a mini set of clay pots identical to the real “palayok” (clay pot) used in typical Filipino family kitchens, which were larger and heavier.

(The “Palayok”/ photo courtesy of

Just to indulge me, my late Mom even allowed me to “cook rice” in my tiny little claypot or “palayok”. Back then, the little claypot seemed enormous for my tiny 6-year old hands, but I felt so adult and took the cooking seriously. I did everything my Mom did, washed the rice, then measured the water level with my tiny fingers, and Mom put it on the firewood stove. Then I patiently sat down infront of it, and pretended I was an adult, waiting for my “rice” to cook.

Rice was always a staple in our Filipino home, when I was growing up. I can’t remember a time when we did not have rice for all our meals : breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even our midday snacks were made of sticky rice treats.

Rice mashed into soup broth was one of the first solid foods I fed my sons when they were infants. Later on, rice pretty much was a mainstay in all family meals. When we moved to America, our lives changed and we had to adapt to the fast-paced lifestyle and environment. We immediately bought a Rice Cooker, from the Asian grocery as soon as we arrived in our new home in the USA. Rice  remained a staple for all our family dinners which I cooked nightly week after week, to this day.

Nowadays, weekend brunches are a family favorite way for us to regroup and spend time together. One of the best ways I serve rice for brunch is to serve it “Tapsilog”style, an acronym in the Philippines that stands for “tapa, sinanggag, itlog” (cured beef slices, fried rice, eggs). The Filipino Tapsilog  has got to be one of the most delicious brunch/breakfast fares there ever was in the world. Undoubtedly. Undeniably. Guaranteed !

A few days ago we were worriedly awaiting the landfall of Hurricane Irene in the east coast. Whenever we are faced with challenges, one of the best coping mechanisms I turn to is FOOD with lots of RICE to accompany it. I cook it, put it on the table, and the family eats it. No words are said. Everyone just digs in. Our meals, abundant in rice and hearty meats and vegetables are the one healing balm that makes everything right.

For this “rice love” event I have participated in with over 16 other rice-lovers, I chose to feature the Philippine “Tapsilog” but in a tropical manner. I put together a pound of Beef Tapa, beef slices I cured myself, fried rice, egg slices, and combined it with slices of red peppers, pineapple and orange segments. This entire combination was pan-fried in a heavy skillet, shimmered with extra virgin olive oil, slathered in lots of minced garlic, and the heady aromas of this combination just soared like a “hurricane” of garlicky scents all over the kitchen and dining room.

TROPICAL FILIPINO TAPSILOG (Beef, Rice, Egg Combo Platter)

1 pound beef tapa, cured Philippine style*

2-3 cups day-old rice

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, sliced in wedges

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to season

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

Orange segments from 1 fruit, pitted

4 whole slices pineapples

2 Tablespoons scallions, chopped


 1 pound skirt steak (or flank steak) slices

½ cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic together. Pour it on the beef steak slices and mash it into the beef with your hands. Massage the beef slices for a couple of minutes till ingredients are well blended. Keep the marinated beef in a freezer Ziploc bag and freeze overnight or a couple of days. This keeps well for a few weeks.

To Prepare Tapsilog:

1.      Over medium high heat, in a heavy skillet, pan fry the beef slices in a tablespoon of oil. Add ½ cup of water and lower heat to medium. Let the beef cook in the water to tenderize. The water will evaporate in about 7-8 minutes and then the beef will sizzle and cook in the oil. Carefully monitor this so it does not burn. Total cooking time of the beef is about 12 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

2.      In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil. When oil is hot, add the minced garlic, onions, red peppers, tomatoes and the rice. Mix it all together with the drippings from the beef. Blend the rice well. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

3.      Finally add the orange segments, hardboiled egg slices, and pineapples on the side. Garnish the whole “Tapsilog” with scallions. Serve straight to the table in the pan. Enjoy !

SERVING SUGGESTION : The “Tapsilog” will be spectacular if served with a side dipping sauce made of a tablespoon each of soy sauce and vinegar. Add some minced garlic, sliced peppers, scallions. Season with salt and pepper.




Tags Posted under Appetizers and Sides, Beef, Breakfast, Cooking, Desserts and Sweets, Dinner, Events Holidays, Featured, Fruit, Lunch, Noodles Rice Pasta, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Vegetables by

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