When cookbook author Marvin Gapultos a.k.a. @BurntLumpia sent me as a gift his new cookbook Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats I was delighted. Marvin also gave me his first cookbook The Adobo Roads five years ago and it’s a kitchen staple. I cooked Macaroni and Cheese with Spam from the Pulutan cookbook because who can resist this? Pulutan is Filipino for appetizers. Recently, I interviewed Marvin for a feature article on Positively Filipino, the premiere online magazine, and he discussed his cookbook, ” There’s a whole set of Filipino food dedicated to drinking that is unknown outside of the Philippines. So I wanted to share that aspect of our culinary culture to a wider audience.”
In this cookbook of over 60 eclectic Philippine appetizers, Marvin expertly incorporates a mix of traditional Filipino drinking food with modern condiments which he likes to cook and eat himself. What is unique about Pulutan is that it is the first Filipino cookbook that features specific drink pairings with each recipe.
Traditionally, among Filipinos, pulutan is enjoyed with beer. And there’s no better person than this author to suggest these pairings because Marvin is a Certified Cicerone, what is considered the craft beer’s equivalent to a wine sommelier.
As I browsed through this cookbook, I thought of my dad and was reminded of how he enjoyed his daily mug of the Philippine-brand San Miguel Beer paired with his favorite pulutans. My dad would have enjoyed the recipe for Papaitan, a bitter-savory, spicy meat appetizer. Marvin gladly shared this Papaitan recipe when I interviewed him and it’s featured by The Happy Home Cook on PositivelyFilipino.com
Marvin recommended some easy initial recipes for those who are just learning to cook Filipino food like: Yellowtail Kinilaw, Oven-Roasted Lechon Kawali and Squid Sisig. I personally picked this recipe for Macaroni and Cheese with Spam because of its easy procedure and I had the basic ingredients already in my pantry. Canned Spam meat products are popular with Filipinos. The history of Spam, according to its manufacturer, Hormel, goes back to 1937 and gained popularity during World War II worldwide after it was used to feed those in combat. Spam, the canned meat which consists of pork and ham is known to be affordable, accessible and during the war, it was easy to transport. In the Philippines, Spam is popular and enjoyed cooked in different ways for breakfast to dinner entrees and even for snacks in between.
As the Spam cubes sizzled in my large skillet till the pieces got brown, the familiar savory, meaty aroma reminded me how hungry I was. This is one of the big reasons why I enjoyed the Pulutan cookbook — most of the appetizer and bar bites featured can be transformed to a main dish, just like this Mac and Cheese I was cooking. I mixed in the grated cheddar cheese into the glistening cooked macaroni noodles, and soon the cheese started to melt into a lush, gold cream which enveloped the pasta.
One of the best kitchen tips I learned from Marvin when I interviewed him was: “Be more willing to accept other people’s help. You can’t do everything by yourself.” He was right. I needed Marvin’s recipes from his cookbooks. This was one of the easiest and superb meals I cooked in no time at all.
Macaroni and Cheese with Spam
- Large Skillet
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 oz. (170 g.) canned Spam meat cut in cubes or small rectangular pieces, about 1-inch length
- 1/4 cup (65 ml) pale lager beer
- 6 oz. (170 g) elbow macaroni
- 1 cup water or as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- for serving: hot sauce optional
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add the oil. After 1 to 2 minutes, when oil is hot enough add the Spam pieces. Brown the Spam for 1 to 2 minutes on each side till pieces are crisp. Do not move the pieces too much so they don't stick to the skillet or else crumble. When Spam pieces are browned, remove from skillet and drain on parchment paper or paper towels to minimize the grease. Set aside.
- Pour the beer into the same skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the macaroni and pour enough water to cover the noodles.
- Turn up the heat to high and add the salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue cooking, while stirring every so often. The liquid should be absorbed and the macaroni cooked al dente in about 5 to 6 minutes.
- To the cooked macaroni in the skillet, add the evaporated milk. Allow this mixture to boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Add the cheese to the macaroni. Stir the macaroni for about 2 minutes more till the cheese melts. If the sauce thickens while it sits, sprinkle some beer or water to thin out the mixture.
- Bring back the Spam and add to the macaroni and cheese in the skillet. Mix everything well.
- Serve right away while warm with hot sauce on the side if preferred.
- Cocktail pairings: As an accompanying beverage, the author suggested a classy cocktail like the Brass Donkey (p. 42 on "Pulutan!"). The cocktail drink consists of mango juice, malt liquor, rum and calamansi. For a beer pairing, malty brown ales are suggested, which as the author said "are always a great match for cheddar and nutty cheeses."
- About the cookbook and author: Marvin Gapultos is also the person behind the blog Burnt Lumpia which has featured numerous Filipino recipes. He opened The Manila Machine, Los Angeles' first gourmet Filipino food truck in 2010. Marvin went from self-taught home cook to cutting his teeth as a professional cook, while introducing his cuisine in Southern California. Marvin's pioneering efforts and passion to promote Filipino food has made him one of the leading voices of this popular cuisine. His cookbooks The Adobo Road and the new Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats are sold where most books are sold. I have also offered an Amazon affiliate link above this blog post.
- Disclosure: I was not paid to review this cookbook, which was a gift from the author. My opinions are mine alone. But I highly recommend this cookbook to fans of Filipino food, appetizers, bar bites and street food.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]