Guys, you know me. I get super excited and uber giddy about all the dishes I post here on Kawaling Pinoy. I guess you can say, the whole process of developing a recipe, from the prepping to the writing, is like a thrilling adventure for me. Yeah, I don’t have much of a life outside of the kitchen. And that’s the way I like it 🙂
Anyway, If I may use the words super excited and uber giddy again, I totally am super excited and uber giddy about our recipe for today: Filipino Tamales! These are my top favorite food in the whole wide planet and I haven’t had them since I immigrated to the U.S. twenty six looong years ago. Living in Southern California and fortunate to have Latin establishments at every corner, I do eat tamales on a regular basis. These, however, are the Mexican version made with corn masa and spiced meat, which I love, love, love almost as much, but are not exactly the favored bubuto (tamales in Kapampangan) of my childhood. I don’t know why I haven’t tried making our Filipino tamales long before yesterday, because, duh, they’re so easy to make and come together in a jiffy! Ugh, I could have been waking up to their fluffy awesomeness every day for the last twenty six years.
Although involving a few steps such as simmering the chicken and pre-cooking the rice dough, Filipino tamales are indeed one of the easiest treats you can make. I mean, I set out to make a batch yesterday afternoon and my task was flowing like a sweet breeze until I got to the wrapping. That was the hardest part! I think I went through two bundles of banana leaves struggling to find pieces large enough to adequately wrap around the tamale dough. As you can see, they aren’t the best looking on the outside but underneath my amateurish banana wrapping efforts, are the fluffiest, generously-topped and most delicious tamales that made me wanna break into a happy dance. Alright, I admit, I just might have done a little teeny-weeny victory wiggle. 🙂
Filipino tamales are traditionally made with roasted ground rice and peanuts but who has time for that? I am sure you want the shortest (and simplest) route possible and get down to business (of eating) ASAP. To simplify the process, these tamales use rice flour and peanut butter to give their distinct flavor. When preparing the banana leaves, trim the “string” like part (where both leaves meet) and set aside as this will be used to tie and secure the tamales. Make sure to lightly pass the leaves over gas flames or soak in hot water for a few minutes to soften and make more pliable when wrapping. Tie the packages snugly but leave a little room as the dough will slightly expand during steaming. I topped the tamales simply with flaked chicken and hardboiled eggs but cashew nuts, salted eggs, boiled potatoes, sauteed bell peppers, sausages, ham and pork slices are also good options. Give these Filipino tamales and let me know what you think.
- ½ pound chicken
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth (reserved from cooking the chicken)
- 2¼ cups rice flour
- 1 tablespoon atsuete powder, diluted in 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and quartered
- 12 pieces (8 x 8 inches) banana leaves
- "thread" of banana leaves or kitchen twine
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add chicken and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that may float on top. When broth has cleared, season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Drain chicken, reserving about 1 cup of the broth. Allow chicken to cool to touch and then flake.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add coconut milk and broth and bring to a gentle boil. Slowly add rice flour, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and resembling a thick paste.
- Separate ⅔ of the mixture into one bowl and the remaining ⅓ to another bowl. To ⅓ of the mixture, add the dissolved annatto and the peanut butter. Stir until well combined and evenly colored.
- Wash banana leaves and with a paper towel, wipe down any grit or dirt. Briefly pass through gas flames or soak for a few minutes in hot water until softened and more pliable.
- Scoop about 2 tablespoons of plain mixture on banana leaf and spread to about 3-inches wide. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the colored mixture onto plain mixture and spread across top. Top with eggs and flaked chicken.
- Fold banana leaves over tamale mixture to fully enclose. Tie with kitchen twine to secure. Arrange prepared tamales on steamer basket and steam for about 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked. Alternatively, arrange tamales in a pot and add enough water to cover. Over medium heat, boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. Gently remove tamales from heat and let stand for 1 or 2 minutes to set a little. May be served hot or cold.