Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Tamales!

This year I made some traditional Christmas tamales... so delicious! Last year at Thanksgiving was the first time I'd ever made them, and it was great fun. In case you have never made tamales before, I've prepared a little how-to for you.

First, you've gotta prepare your masa dough and your tamale filling. I've tried out a couple of different recipes for both and settled on some favorites. This year I made 40 tamales, using a triple batch of the masa recipe from "Mexicali Tamales" from "Voluptuous Vegan" and a double batch of the Tamales from "Veganomicon."

Then, get a bunch of corn husks and soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. I learned this method of rolling up the tamales from "Voluptuous Vegan."

Take out one or two husks and rip them into 1/4-1/2 inch strips for tying off the tamales. Then take out a nice big husk, it should be soft by now. If you need to, like I did here, you can overlap two smaller ones.

Put on a scoop of your masa dough, maybe 2 1/2 - 3 Tablespoons.

And spread it out a bit.

Next, put on 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of your filling. Yum! Not too much, or it won't close up, and also it might burst when you steam it.

Now it is time to seal your tamale. Technically speaking, this is a two-hand job... but I had to take the picture. Carefully and firmly wrap the husk around the dough, bringing the left and right sides of the tamale together. Wrap the husk around the dough.

Now your little tamale is ready to be tucked in...

Fold the bottom edge over, tucking it under with your finger.

Make sure you have a nice firm fold.

Then, quickly flip over your tamale to keep it folded under, and pinch together the top.

Use one of your strips to tie off your tamale. Tie it firmly and also tie it in a knot. I had some of my ties slip off or loosen when I didn't include the knot.

Now your little tamale is all bundled up and ready to go! I wasn't sure how long to steam these babies because one recipe said 30 minutes and one said 1 hour and 15 minutes. So, I settled on one hour. Stack them up in your steamer and steam away. Check the water after 30 minutes or so, to make sure there's still water in there.

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!


  1. Positively delicious!!

    Hope your Christmas was spectacular!!

  2. Anonymous6:50 AM

    Great tutorial! Can't wait to try it! :)

  3. Oh my gosh, YUM! Your friends & family are so lucky!

  4. I have always wanted to make my own tamales but have been too scared. Thanks for the tutorial!! Now I can visualize it...

  5. Anonymous10:26 AM

    I've had a craving for tamales this season and yours look so delicious. I used to make them with my ex-boyfriend's grandmother but at that time they weren't vegan. You've inspired me to try making them again.

  6. Thanks for the tutorial! I've been wanting to try my hand at tamales and maybe I'll get to that project now that I have your photo essay. :)

  7. Tamales are one of my favorite foods but I've never tried to make my own. Thanks for the play-by-play photos! They look great! :-)


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