Filipino tamales?! Let’s Eat It All Up!

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Angeleno Anne Altarejos created these Filipino tamales. Shown are two pork adobo tamales on the left and one shrimp tamale on the right.

A tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish. So what the heck is a Filipino tamale? I first heard about this fusion food several weeks ago at an event in Los Angeles, and that immediately piqued my interest.

When I first started this blog, my tagline was initially “A visual log on places (and faces).” That’s because people you meet along the way while traveling are the most (or at least one of the most) colorful parts of stories, and I’ve always wanted to spotlight those people. (Hoping to write more articles about them in the not-too-distant future 🙂 )

When it comes backyard traveling, people are still probably the most interesting aspects of traveling stories. One of these vibrant stories comes from Anne Altarejos, a Chinese-Filipina-American (her parents are Chinese, she was born in Manila, then moved to California when she was a baby) who concocted a variation of this brilliant food concept: the ‘laman’ (what’s inside) of the tamale is Filipino cuisine, while the wrapping outside is the traditional masa.

Anne came up with these particular dishes when she signed up for a previous underground food event. The hosts wanted something different, and since she worked with many Central Americans at her job, she pitched tamales. But something had to be different about these tamales… And so the her own variations of tamales was born.

Among Filipino tamale variations Anne came up with are:

  • Pork adobo (which has pork adobo mixed with sauce on the inside, and sauce on the outside topped with chopped eggs and green onions for a more vibrant presentation)
  • Shrimp (which has shrimp inside and is decorated outside with spicy coconut sauce, chopped cucumbers, bell pepper, salsa, and mint to make it a little more refreshing)

The tamales are amazing and filling. One to two should fill the average person right up 🙂

At the moment, Anne’s tamales are only available through her catering company, Let’s Eat It All Up. She has always loved to cook and is able to whip up Korean, Indian and Taiwanese food, among other ethnic cuisines. She’s also got a wide palette for food, including Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian and Thai food. (Recently, she’s even started enjoying Burmese food.) She also enjoys doing dessert tables and making h’ordeuvres.

While she’s still in the process of breaking into the food scene with a possible brick and mortar, you can always check out her website, Instagram or Facebook for more info!

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Here’s how the tamales to-go are packaged. Photo courtesy of Anne.

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