Monday, June 30, 2008

Tamales... round two!

We made tamales for the first time last year - it was pretty time consuming then, but I let that slip my mind when I decided to prepare these veggie Corn Tamales with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa on a weeknight! Oops!

As I learned from the last time, it is best to let husks soak as long as you can - 30 minutes will produce a husk that is just flexible to work with, but they are much more pliable if left for 1 to 2 hours. Another tip - soak a couple extra husks so you can slice them into ties for the tamales.

Coarsely puréed sweet corn kernels are mixed with the masa to bulk up the corn flavor in the tamale dough - when combined, it is a little on the drier side, so you may need to use your hands to fully incorporate the ingredients. Once a portion of the masa is spread on the a husk, a dollop of sautéed red bell peppers and yellow onion are added on top. While the whole process is not difficult at all, doing it 18 times makes it a little laborious, so turn up some tunes and grab a glass of your favorite drink. And yes, dancing in place while assembling tamales counts as exercise... at least thats my story.

Steaming should take about one hour. If you feel the need to check, the tamale dough should feel firm and easily pull away from the husk. While waiting, we worked on a raw salsa to serve along side. Creamy avocado, tart tomatillos, fresh lime juice, cilantro and just a tiny amount of minced jalapeño are tossed together and chilled until the tamales are ready. I've never had tomatillos raw and was afraid they were going to be a little too harsh, but their bright, crisp and citrus-y flavor was so welcoming against the rich avocado! If you've never purchased tomatillos before, you'll want to select ones that are firm to the touch with husks that are tightly attached. The tighter the husk, the fresher the fruit and if you peak underneath, the tomatillo should be bright green.

These tamales are on the lighter side - so the dough is not very traditional being made with just a few tablespoons of canola oil, instead of lard. While they may not be as tender, I thought the texture was still good and their flavor was quite nice, especially paired with the tangy fresh salsa.


  1. Tamales are one of my favorite foods, and your raw salsa sounds terrific! I also like your combo exercise/assembly line plan!

  2. I made your original tamale recipe this weekend for the second time. The first time I was confused about the grits. This time, thanks to your response to my question/comment, they came out excellent! I even served them to company on Sunday and they were a big hit! Thanks so much. I can't wait to try this second recipe.

  3. So impressive! Those are beautiful. I am still too nervous to try to make them, but you make it look/sound pretty easy!


  4. Hi Joe!
    I've been dying to try tamales for the longest time...eversince I saw them on a Nickelodeon TV series. MMMM. They sound kinda daunting to make though. But hopefully I'll find some as good as yours and finally get to see what these Tamales are all about! =)

  5. Paula - Thanks!

    Jenn - I'm glad you gave them a second try!

    Courtney - They really are not that difficult... just a little time consuming!

    Victoria - Give them a try!