Kitchen & Pantry

Tamales

Tamales evokes so many fond childhood memories. Both my mother and father loved this Filipino delicacy and I inherited their addiction. After I got married and was living with my in-laws, my late father-in-law would buy tamales every Sunday after mass from an ambulant vendor who sold them in front of the church only on Sundays. He and I would eat the tamales with gusto; no one else in my husband’s family liked them.

According to the late Doreen Fernandez, probably the only real authority on Filipino cuisine, the rice-based Filipino tamales is an indigenized version of the Mexican tamale. The Filipino tamales is a steamed delicacy made with a mixture of ground white and brown (toasted) rice, ground peanuts and coconut milk topped with strips of chicken, chorizo and slices of harboiled eggs. You will find a recipe over at Pandisal.

Food shops and stalls selling tamales has become rare in Metro Manila and the suburbs. If tamales were an animal, it would probably be an engangered specie like the Philippine eagle. I was ecstatic when I found a stall at Tiendesitas selling tamales a couple of months ago. There were two varities–sweetened and the unsweetened. I bought one of each kind curious to experience sweet tamales for the first time. I must say that the traditional tamales, a little salty and spicy, is still much, much better.

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