6th Annual Tacos And Tamales Festival; March 23-24 At Desert Breeze Park

6th Annual Tacos And Tamales Festival; March 23-24 At Desert Breeze Park

6th Annual Tacos And Tamales Festival; March 23-24 At Desert Breeze Park

Are you looking to make the perfect tamale? Follow these five tips to help you cook the best tamales.

Tamales – those delightful parcels of seasoned dough wrapped in corn husks are a delicious and versatile food. They are certainly beloved and hold a rich history, but achieving the perfect tamale can feel like a mystery. Are you trying to become a tamale enthusiast? You’ve come to the right place, as we will soon reveal 5 tips for cooking the best tamales.

The Tamale Basics

When it comes to making tamales, the good news is it’s not rocket science. Anyone can make a delicious tamale. However, in order to achieve the perfect tamale, it’s important to start with the bare basics. Without knowing the essentials, how can you expect to create the best of the best?

The star of the show is the corn husk. The dried husks, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes, become bendable and ready to be wrapped around the tamale filling. Masa harina, a special corn flour, forms the base of the dough. Mixed with water, shortening (lard or vegetable shortening), baking powder, and a sprinkle of salt, the masa dough should become soft and spreadable. Savory fillings are the norm, with options like shredded meats (shredded chicken, pork), vegetables (beans, corn), or a vegetarian medley of lentils and spices. And before you wrap that tamale, don’t forget to add a flavorful sauce or broth for some extra moisture and depth.

Steaming Done Simply

If you’ve never cooked a tamale before, you might be shocked to discover that the tamale is actually steamed over hot water. What?! A steamer basket placed over a pot of simmering water is your tamale haven. Arrange the tamales either standing upright or neatly nestled in the steamer. Cover the pot and let the tamales steam for about an hour or until the husks easily peel away from the masa dough. Once you complete your steaming, take the tamales off the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before carefully unwrapping them. Then, jazz them up with your choice of guacamole, salsa, or sour cream.

Sounds easy, right? While making tamales isn’t incredibly challenging, there are some key steps that come into play in order to perfect your tamale-making technique. With the five key tips below, you’ll be well on your way to cooking the best tamales around.

  • 5) Filling Flavor Is Everything

    fresh cilantro

    The filling is the heart of the tamale. Don’t settle for bland! Pre-cook your meat (chicken, pork, or your vegetarian options like lentils or black beans) and infuse it with bold spices. Fresh herbs like cilantro and oregano add vibrancy. Also, don’t forget the magic of a good broth.

  • 4) The Secret To Perfect Masa

    masa being spread on tamale cork husk

    The masa (dough) should be soft yet spreadable. Here’s a secret known among the best tamale makers… Use the “masa float test.” Simply drop a small ball of masa dough into a glass of water. If it floats, you’re golden! If it sinks, add a touch more fat (lard or vegetable shortening) and knead it in until it reaches buoyant perfection.

  • 3) Perfect Those Corn Husks

    tamales wrapped in corn husks

    Once you start working with the corn husks, you’ll realize they need some TLC. As previously mentioned, soak them in warm water for at least 30 minutes, or until they are pliable and won’t tear when folded. When you come across the most stubborn of husks, revive them by simmering them in water on the stove for a few minutes. A happy husk will gift you the happiest of tamales.

  • 2) Wrapping Wizardry


    Mastering the art of the tamale fold can take practice, but here’s a helpful starting point. Spread your masa onto the smooth side of a softened husk, leaving room at the top for folding. Fold the sides inwards, then bring the bottom end up to meet the top. The key to perfection in this step? Secure it with a piece of string or a thin strip of husk. You’ll thank us later.

  • 1) Steaming Secrets

    tamales in pot

    Steaming is the gentle art of cooking tamales. As previously mentioned, use a steamer basket placed over a pot of simmering water. The key here is to avoid letting the water level dip below the steamer basket. A clever trick? Place a coin in the bottom of the pot. When the water evaporates enough for the coin to start clinking, it’s time to add more water.

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