To pull off your own kamayan at home, follow these tips from Villamin and other experts.
Credit: Aubrie Pick

Forget the family heirloom forks and get handsy this holiday season with a kamayan. The Filipino feast features tables lined with banana leaves and piled with sticky rice, stewed pork, atchara (pickled papaya, carrots and daikon) and dipping sauce, and guests are invited to dig in with their hands. “Seeing people get excited about this aspect of Filipino culture makes me happy,” says Jennifer Villamin, who has been organizing a San Francisco pop-up called Pampalasa for the past year. To pull off your own kamayan at home, follow these tips from Villamin and other experts.

1. Banana leaves: “If you want to go all out, cover your whole table in banana leaves,” says Villamin. “But for a lower lift, you can just cover some plates with the leaves.”

2. Rice: "Good old-fashioned steamed jasmine rice will do the trick,” says Nicole Ponseca of Jeepney in New York City. Go the extra mile by lining the rice cooker pot with pandan leaves to infuse the grains with grassy flavor.

3. Dips: No Filipino feast is complete without sawsawan. To make the allium-heavy condiment, Ponseca chops onions and garlic and adds splashes of soy sauce, vinegar, and honey or jam.

4. Meat: “Hosting a kamayan feast doesn’t mean you have to roast a whole pig,” says Yana Gilbuena of Salo Series in Houston. Grilled chicken is always a crowd fave, but stewed pork is also easy and versatile.”