I didn't grow up eating tamales like many people did but as I have gotten older I sure have developed a taste for them. I usually buy them off someone in a parking lots (my mom hates this) or occasionally I order them when out to eat but I always thought it would be fun to give making them a shot. Thankfully the women I hang out with are also adventurous in their cooking and didn't mind getting together for about 5 hours to make 60 or so tamales. A huge plus was that 2 of them have made these with their family before, so we turned to them for their recipe and all of their tips and tricks. I cannot say that I am an expert because I have only attempted these twice but to our credit, they were some of the best tamales I have ever had.
If you decide to make these I suggest enlisting a few friends to help you because its a lot more fun with wine flowing and when you don't have to do all of the work. This recipe was something we collaborated on via the internet and family tips. Hope that you give it a shot, you wouldn't be disappointed.
I highly suggest heading to BuyLow Supermarket in Long Beach (4700 Cherry Ave Long Beach, CA 90807) because you are able to find most everything that you will need there, you could make your own masa if you would like but we went ahead and bought it already prepared.
- 3 large cans whole green chilies
- 6 cans whole corn
- 6 cans sweet cream corn
- 4 cans diced jalapenos
- Big block of jack cheese
- 3 fresh yellow wax chilies
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- Box of Inter fold Deli Wraps (wax paper sheets)
- Box of freezer plastic bags
- 2 large bags of hojas (this is what the tamales are wrapped in, corn husks)
- 10 punds of prepared masa fina (this is the dough for the tamales)
Then we went ahead and got started on the chopping, once you have drained the cans of whole green chilies go ahead and slice them into four pieces - about the thickness of a finger. You will also want to slice the jack cheese about the same size. Tomatoes you can just do a rough chop because this will just be mixed in for color then do the same with the yellow wax chilies.
Now lets drain! Go ahead and drain the 6 cans of whole corn, the diced jalapenos and 3 of the cans of the sweet corn (you don't HAVE to do this but I just think in the end the tamale cooks quicker and isn't as wet at the end of the process ). Put all the chopped veggies and the canned goods into a pot on the stove and heat it through to get everything combined.
While the filling is heating you should probably get started on sorting out the hojas, you will want to pat them all dry and then one by one put them in a pile with the right side facing up, this was the hardest part for me but you want to have the side that you will be putting the masa on side up so that once they are cooked the masa easily comes off of the hoja. The way my friend told us to decide on the correct side was to slide your finger nail across is and the rougher side should be on the outside and the smoother side would be where you want to place your masa and your filling. Once you have these all set up you are ready to go.
Our tamale leader told us to use the back of a spoon while layering the masa onto the hoja, you want to to have the masa be about 1/4 inch think and very even so that when they steam certain parts aren't under or overcooked. If you spread it too thick, it will be difficult to roll up with the filling added and it will squeeze out onto your hand or counter. If you make it too thin, you will have the filling falling out in the steamer. You want the masa cover the hoja from side to side and to the bottom but leave an area at the top about 1 1/2 inch. Once you are happy with your masa you put on stick of cheese, one piece of green chili and about a teaspoon of filling down the center. You will then want to fold the bottom up and then one side over the other.
When you are ready to steam these babies you could pull out your tamale steamer if you are fancy like that or go ahead take out your biggest pot/lid and steamer insert/pasta drainer/concoction you have made our of tin foil and get started. Take off the wax paper and you want to stand the tamales upright, I use a pasta drainer and I do about 4 tamales at a time. You do not need a lot of water in your pot but you do want to keep a close eye on the water level and continue to add to it so that you don't end up burning the bottom. Each time I have steamed tamales it has taken a different amount of time. I am sure it depends on the water, how many tamales you are steaming and the filling. Mine take from 45 - 90 minutes, the way you can tell if they are done is by removing one with tongs, laying it down and attempting to open it if the masa easily comes away from the hoja then maybe let it cool for a second and dig in!