If Your Wallet Is Still Recovering from the Holidays, Make These SPAM Tamales

January 17, 2019

One of the lesser local dishes is our version of tamales. Very different from the Mexican version that inspired it, the Kapampangan version uses ground rice, coconut milk, and various toppings.

Unfancy. Just how we like it.

And with ground rice as its base, it is naturally steamed in banana leaves. Like we’ve said in previous recipes, don’t forget to heat the banana leaves so that they don’t fall apart. And we opted to top this dish with a meat you probably already have in your pantry: spam.

SPAM Tamales

  • Serves: 8 people
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Medium



  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • ½ cup rice flour

Meat topping

  • 8 pieces SPAM, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar


  • Banana leaves


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add coconut milk, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Stir and cook until coconut milk begins to bubble.
  3. When the coconut milk is almost to a boil, add in the cornmeal and rice flour.
  4. Whisk vigorously until a thick paste forms.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. While the mixture is cooling, place a large skillet over medium heat.
  7. Cover slices of spam in brown sugar.
  8. Add oil to the pan then sear each piece of spam until caramelized, about 1 minute per side.
  9. Remove from heat and set aside.
  10. To assemble the tamales, take a large piece of banana leaf and add in 1/8th of the corn mixture.
  11. Spread into a rough square then top with a slice of spam.
  12. Fold over the banana leaf until the ingredients are fully covered, placing the seam side down to avoid any leaking.
  13. Place the tamales in a bamboo steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
  14. Serve warm or cold.
Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

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