Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mexican Night: Tamales

I've tasted Tamales previously, but just the one time, on honeymoon in America, and have not since come across them anywhere in NZ. So I thought I'd give making them myself a go. And for a first attempt I thought these were pretty impressive, if I may say so myself!

First things first. The key ingredients, Corn Husks and Masa Harina are available here in Tauranga from The Good Food Trading Company

The whole process with Tamales takes some time. The Corn Husks need to be soaked to soften them, recommended for a minimum of two hours and overnight if possible. I left the decision to make these to a little late in the day so I soaked for a couple of hours before blanching in a pot of boiling water. Worked a treat.

While the soaking takes place you are left with plenty of time to put together the other main elements - the masa dough mix and tamale filling:

Masa Dough ingredients:

200 grams of butter
2 cups of Masa Harina
2 teaspoons baking powder
handful of coriander
Salt and Pepper to season
1 cup vege stock

I used my food processor for this. Whip the butter and then added the masa, baking powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix together well before adding the stock slowly until the dough forms a firm ball.
For the tamale filling whip up a chilli - I made mine vegetarian, with an onion, one can of black beans, a can of mixed beans (mashed), chilli, garlic, and coriander. You want this to be a fairly thick/ dry chilli mixture. 

And then I grated some cheese.

To assemble the tamales, lay out a nice wide Corn Husk and spread onto it about a quarter cup of the masa dough. I found the best technique was a combination of using my hands and a rolling pin covered in glad wrap. To the middle of this dollop 2-3 tablespoons of the filling and a sprinkling of cheese. 

Roll the masa over to encase the filling . . .

. . . before wrapping up into a little parcel. Cut a few husks into strips to use to tie the parcels. This was a lot harder then it sounds. Apparently you can also use twine, I didn't have any, but may source some for next time around. By the last tamale I got pretty lazy and was just twisting and tying each end.

Cook the Tamales by steaming them for at least an hour and a half. 

And then they are done! Well worth the wait . . .
they are so delicious - really really tasty! 

I didn't use nearly as much of the filling mixture as I would have expected, so reheated what was left, mixed in a can of chopped tomatoes and served up as a side to the Tamales with a dollop of guacamole.


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