Breakfast is, as the saying goes, the most important meal of the day. Bearing this in mind, why not make it delicious? In Metro Manila, delicious breakfast usually means some type of "silog."
Tapsilog is a portmanteau of three Tagalog terms Tapa (a savory breakfast meat), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). Within Metro Manila Tapsilog and the other variations of the dish are synonymous with quick breakfast. The dish ingredients are basic: meat, egg, fried rice and often a side dish of atchara (pickled papaya) or sliced tomatoes for an acidic touch. De rigueur are the rice and egg as all versions have egg and some form of fried rice (flavored with garlic).
Beyond these two meats the "silog" breakfast has innumerable variations. Longganisa (sausage), dried fish, fried milk fish, hot dog, SPAM, fried chicken, corned beef, adobo and others are all common and have their own portmanteaus. The term "tapsilog" and all other iterations are apparently a fairly recent occurrence (within the past 30 or 40 years) but they are now commonly used. This quick breakfast dish is one that has ingrained itself into the language and culture of central Luzon—but it has traveled with Filipinos across the world. You can find this hearty breakfast food—which also makes a great late night snack—almost anywhere where Filipino communities exist.
Included below is a recipe for tosilog. Feel free to scale the sugar back to taste, but the meat should be sweet. Also feel free to grill rather than fry the meat, both are excellent.
Please note: This recipe requires preparation of the pork several days before the dish is created.
- 1 pound pork shoulder, sliced into 1/4 inch wide strips
- 2/3 cups brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons annatto powder
- 1 cups cooked jasmine rice, ideally day old
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- Salt and pepper
- In a bowl whisk the kosher salt, annatto, and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, season the slices of pork with the mixture taking care to completely cover the pork.
- Gently place the slices into a re-sealable glass container, laying them flat and layering the pieces. Repeat this process until all the pork is coated and in the container.
- Allow the pork to cure for 2-3 days.
- After three days, remove the pork from the cure and gently pat dry.
- In a wok, stir-fry the pieces in 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat until cooked through and caramelized. Remove to a plate and wipe out the wok thoroughly.
- Wet your hands and in a large bowl break up the day old rice into individual grains.
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until lightly shimmering and add the garlic.
- Drop the temperature to low and gently fry the garlic, constantly moving it, until it becomes fragrant and brown.
- Remove the garlic from the pan and raise the heat to high, adding .5 tablespoon of oil if necessary.
- Once oil is hot, add the rice and stir-fry until the rice begins to toast and become fragrant, seasoning with kosher salt.
- Once the rice is fragrant add the garlic and continue to stir fry to incorporate.
- Remove the rice to a plate.
- In a non-stick skillet heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat.
- Once shimmering crack in the egg, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Gently cook the egg until the white is set and the yolk is runny.
- Build the dish, topping the rice with the fried egg and garnishing with sliced tomatoes or atchara.
Recipe and photo by Liam Fox
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