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.

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