Monday, February 6, 2012

Hot Tamales!

I did it. I finally did it. I made tamales.

I had been wanting to learn for months, but I kept putting it off for fear of doing something wrong, and I kept making silly excuses like, "I need a Mexican to teach me!" or "I can't find the right chili powder seasoning that the recipe calls for," or "It takes too long to make!" But finally I put all excuses aside and determined, "I'm gonna do this. Today."

And yes, it did take me 4 hours in the kitchen (including the steaming process), but that's only because there were several things that should have been pre-made and weren't (like the "Bulgur Burger" and tofu mayo). And I was probably being too perfectionistic (as usual) about assembling the tamales. But hey, I had fun. =)

And the end result? Perfection!!! ^_^ My family loved it, and Mom has decided we will definitely make these again. ;-) Recipe and pictures are below.

Amazing. Simply amazing. My mouth is watering again, even though I'm full. =P

(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
half 8-oz. package dried corn husks
2 cups Masa Harina Flour
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. water, or more as needed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. Chicken-Like Seasoning

Tamale Filling: 
1 cup burger replacement (recipe below)
2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below, but actually I didn't add this - I just sprinkled in some cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt, and added a few Tbsp. of canned green chilies)
1/4 cup water, or more to moisten
Simmer Tamale Filling ingredients together until moisture is evaporated, then add 2 Tbsp. Simple Mayonnaise (recipe below).

1. Soak dried corn husks several hours (place in a bowl or bread pan and cover with water). Use a weight on top to keep them submerged. (I soaked mine overnight.)

2. Combine in a mixing bowl the masa flour and seasonings. Stir in coconut milk and water to form a soft dough. Divide into 12 balls. 
The dough should be soft, but not sticking to hands. Press some of it into a flat pancake in your hand; if it cracks and doesn't hold together, add a bit more water.

3. Place corn husks, one at a time, on a flat surface or plate. With your fingers, flatten dough on each husk 1/4 inch thick, leaving about a 1-inch margin at the bottom and sides. [I left about 3-4 inches at the bottom, and 1 inch from the top and sides.] Place 1-2 Tbsp. Tamale Filling lengthwise down the center. Lift long husk sides toward the center, gently sliding the dough away from the husk to cover the filling. Overlap and press edges of dough together, forming a tube of masa filled with burger. [I should have taken pictures of this process, but didn't think of it till later. =\ Sorry.]

4. Wrap the sides of the husk around the masa filling, then fold up the bottom. Fasten the bottom fold with a strip of corn husk. Don't tie it too tightly, though, or you'll squeeze the filling out! :)

5. Place tamales in a steamer basket in a kettle over boiling water. Cover and steam for 1 hour.

6. Serve hot in husks. (Remove the husk to eat the tamale.) Delicious topped with salsa and guacamole! =D These can also be frozen.
Tip: Oven reheating makes tamales dry out; it's best to reheat in a steamer or microwave.

Makes 12 tamales.

Bulgur Burger
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
1 cup bulgur wheat
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts, ground
1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp. powder)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or increase salt to 1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. Beef-Like Seasoning
8-oz. can tomato sauce

1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until thick. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

2. Use as is, or place in a Teflon skillet over medium-high heat and brown, stirring now and then. If desired, add about 1 cup diced onion and brown with the bulgur wheat. [I've never done this. I just use it as is.]

Makes 3 cups.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
2 Tbsp. onion powder
3 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup California Chili

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Makes 1/2 cup.

Simple Mayonnaise
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
12-oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Soft Tofu, or 1/2 brick regular tofu plus 3/4 cup water
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp. honey (or 2 Tbsp. sugar)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend for at least 1 minute until silky smooth. Chill to thicken.

Tip: Don't underestimate the importance of the right balance of lemon, sweetening, and salt. For low salt, cut salt, sweetener, and lemon juice in half.

Makes 3 cups.

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