Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
worm@work

ISO Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Recommended Posts

Hi,

I am a newbie both to this board and to the world of mexican cooking. I love tamales but the place where I live distinctly lacks good mexican restaurants. The best tamales I've tasted were made by my mexican friends mom at home and served fresh and they tasted like something that'd be served only in heaven. Am dying to try making them myself but I don't have the slightest idea how to get started. Can someone give me a tried and tested recipe using ingredients that I'm likely to be able to buy in the US? I'd be really really really grateful. Oh and I'm a vegetarian although I do eat eggs from time to time. So I need a vegetarian recipe too :unsure: . Really looking forward to some help!!!

Thanks a million,

worm@work

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tamale making is worth researching and experimenting. Get some friends together to help you out.

In my ill-informed opinion, tamales are not something to whip up in an afternoon, if you've never made them before.

The times I have made them has been with LARD - freshly rendered. I have made them with vegetable shortening, they weren't that great, too lardy tasting. I think I had the ratio wrong, because I worked in a Mexican regional restaurant in the U.S., where we made 700 vegetarian tamales for a festival and they were made with veg. shortening. They tasted fabulous!! Great masa to begin with as well, that always helps.

I've had sweet tamales in Mexico made with butter, but theres that animal product again.

I do have a recipe but it is made with LARD.

I'm sure someone out there knows the answer.

S

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my first go at tamales, I started with vengroff's excellent Two-Spice Chicken Tamale recipe from RecipeGullet. Obviously it's not vegetarian, but it'll give you the methodology involved. I've discovered that basically anything will taste good when wrapped up in a tamale. Try a spicy vegetable stew or ratatouille for starters.

A hint is to use banana leaves instead of corn husks. While they're not as cute as husks, they're a lot easier to work with: you can cut them to the size you want and they fold easily. You can find banana leaves at Asian markets as well as at some Latin markets.


Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Shelora,

I did realise that the process is going to be time consuming and effort-heavy. So I managed to convince a couple of friends to make a Saturday afternoon get-together out of the whole thing :). However, most of us are vegetarians, so i need to find a way to do this with vegetable shortening somehow. I scouted around for some decent masa and ended up buying the Maseca Instant Corn Masa Mix for Tamales. I dont know how good this is but this seemed the best of what was available locally and on opening it, I found that its a lil different in texture than regular masa that I bought in the past to make tortillas. I hope this one will do the job reasonably well. Now one of the things I am eager to find out is what kind of stuffing I can use being a vegetarian.. also can I use a pressure cook to steam them? Tricks that will make spreading the masa and rolling it easier (if such tricks exist!) and such. Overall, I'll be happy even if they dont turn out too well.. am looking at this as a 'character building' experience overall :). Even if it takes me twenny attempts before I get this, I am positive its totally worth it!

worm@work

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tamales in most parts of Mexico are made using dried corn husks (soaked for several hours before using) as the wrappers. Banana leaf wrappers are used primarily in southern Mexico--Oaxaca, the Yucatán, etc. The banana leaf imparts a distinct flavor to the tamal that may not be the flavor you are dreaming of.

Depending on how many tamales you're making, you'd best invite your friends in the morning to make them. The last time I did this with a neighbor, we made 200 and it took us 10 hours--and we've done it a LOT. Tamales are the sort of thing you want to make a lot of to make the work worthwhile.

A wonderful stuffing for vegetarian tamales is cheese (unless you don't eat cheese) with small strips of roasted chile poblano. Monterey Jack would work for the cheese. Canned green chiles would replace the poblanos, although the taste would be different.

The biggest trick to light, fluffy tamales is beat, beat, beat the shortening until it is fluffier than you think possible. Then mix the shortening with the masa harina and continue to beat it by hand until it is fluffy. When your arm is worn out, it will be almost done.

Rather than roll the masa, you take two or three of the soaked corn husks, overlap them slightly in your hand, and lightly spread about a tablespoon or so of masa with your fingers on the husks. Put the cheese and/or chile strips on the masa and spread another tablespoon or so of masa on top. Wrap the husks around the uncooked tamal, fold one end flap of the husks over to the middle, and stack on a rack in a steamer containing 2 cups of water. Repeat until you've made all the tamales.

Steam for 1 1/2 hours (checking frequently to be sure your steamer is not running dry. Check the tamales after this cooking time see if they are fluffy and done--if not, steam them about 1/2 hour longer. Replenish water as needed with boiling water.

It's not a good idea to do this in a pressure cooker.


Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew, thanks a million for the link. I think I'm going to try a couple of fillings. A ratatouille sounds like a smashing idea as does the cheese and poblano strips.

Esperanza, thats a really nice and detailed recipe and I'm really excited about the whole thing now. My friends mom did make them using corn husks. However, we make some preparations steamed in banana leaf back home in India, so I'm a little more used to handling them. Not sure.. I think I'll try my hand at using the corn husks and resort to banana leaves only if I fail miserably.

Will try and post pictures after the event :smile: . Thanks a million everyone,

worm@work

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Esperanza makes several great points. The husks are a pain to work with, especially the crappy ones you can get in the US, but I'm not too keen on the flavor banana leaves impart. Another option is parchment. It's about as easy to use as banana leaves, but doesn't impart any flavor. However, it may remind you of the canned variety.

There are different styles -- many different. I prefer the lighter variety, which, as Esperanza notes, take a lot of whipping of the fat. Think: creaming butter. Your masa should float in water after it's mixed. Also, since you're using masa harina (which should be totally fine), give the dough time to hydrate after you add water to it. Then after it's rested covered for 20 minutes or so, add a little more water until it's the correct consistency. The masa harina needs time to truly absorb the water and get back to what it was when it was fresh.

Also, you don't truly even need a filling for tamales. Just make a good sauce (or three) to eat them with. But mushrooms, beans, rajas, and cheese are all traditional vegetarian fillings.

There's a decent vegetarian Mexican cookbook out there, I think, but I can't remember the name. It never truly interested me, but it seemed to at least be trying to take already existing authentically vegetarian Mexican recipes and publish them. I'll try to look for it next time I'm at Powell's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to add a note about shortening. Although it is not traditional, because lard is the only ingredient used in 95% of Mexican households, you can get a better result with a product found in Indian and middle eastern markets.

It is called Vegetable ghee. It has the same consistancy as lard which is not as dense as a shortening such as crisco.

It beats up lighter and fluffier.

You can also make tamales using baking parchment. Cut it to size, soak the paper in hot water then wrap in a hot, damp towel to hold while you work.

I help my neighbors make up huge batches of tamales and we work on an assembly line basis.

One will put the steamed corn husks down and trim them and form the wrapping.

The next person spreads the masa, the next person applies the filling and pushes it along to the next who rolls and ties the tamale and places it on a rack in a pot. To begin the pot is tipped a bit so the tamales can be placed so they will remain in a vertical position. Once the layer is almost full the pot can be set flat.

The first layer is covered with flattened corn husks and a second layer is placed in the pot, sometiems a third layer is added if there is a shortage of pots or of burners on which to place it.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
       
      First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years. Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst.
       
      I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread.  So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency. If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different.
       
      Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat.
       
      Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat. And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem.
      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also, the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu. Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
       
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
       
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
    • By David Ross
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q8zTVlZ19c
       
      Mmmm.  The sweet, spiced aroma of a freshly baked pumpkin pie wafting over the Thanksgiving table.  A large bowl of chilled, sweetened cream is passed around the table, a cool dollop of cream cascading over a slice of “homemade” pumpkin pie.  (In many households, removing a frozen pie from a box and putting it in a hot oven is considered “homemade.”).
       
      Americans can’t seem to get enough pumpkin pie during the Holidays.  Some 50 million pumpkin pies are sold for Thanksgiving dinner and according to astute company marketing executives, 1 million of the pies are sold at Costco. And Mrs. Smith sells a few million of her oven-ready, frozen pumpkin pie.
       
      In August of 2013, we debuted the Summer Squash Cook-Off (http://forums.egullet.org/topic/145452-cook-off-63-summer-squash/)
      where we presented a number of tasty zucchini and patty pan dishes showcasing summer squash. But our squash adventure wasn’t over.  Today we expand our squash lexicon with the debut of eG Cook-Off #71: Winter Squash.
       
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).
       
      Cut into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and crafted into cheesecake for Thanksgiving, pumpkin reigns supreme each Fall.  But pumpkin is just one variety of winter squash--squash that grows throughout the summer and is harvested in fall.  The acorn, butternut, spaghetti, hubbard, kabocha, red kuri, delicata, calabaza and cushaw are but a few of the many winter squash cousins of the pumpkin.
       
      Winter squash is not always the best looking vegetable in the produce section--knobby, gnarled and multi-colored, winter squash has a hard, tough skin.  Peel back the unfashionable skin and sweet, rich squash meat is revealed. 
       
      Winter squash cookery doesn’t end after the last slice of pumpkin pie.  You can stuff it with a forcemeat of duck confit and sautéed mushrooms, purée roasted squash into a creamy soup garnished with lardons or slowly braise squash with peppers and corn in a spicy Caribbean stew. 
       
      Please join us in sharing, learning and savoring winter squash.

    • By Shelby
      Thanks to @blue_dolphin, I was forced to buy this cookbook  and it was delivered today.  No matter how hard I try, I just don't super enjoy cookbooks on my Kindle.  Anyway, I'll most likely be alone on this thread due to low okra likability lol, but I'm an only child and I'm used to being alone 😁
       
       

       
       First on the list will be the Kimchi Okra from page 100--as suggested by @blue_dolphin.
       
      I'll be back on this thread soon  
    • By Henga
      Hi there! I am looking for a good Mexican cookbook. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance.
    • By newchef
      I'm trying to make a Roasted Poblano and Black Bean Enchilada recipe and I don't know if the tomatillo cream sauce will be freezer-friendly.     Basically I process the following ingredients in a food processor to make the cream sauce.  I plan on freezing the sauce in ice-cube trays for individual servings.  The sauce will then be thawed and spread on a baking dish and also used to top the enchiladas and cook in a 400 degree oven.   Thanks!   INGREDIENTS:   -26 ounces canned tomatillos, drained -1 onion -1/2 cup cilantro leaves -1/3 cup vegetable broth -1/4 cup heavy cream -1 tbsp vegetable oil -3 garlic cloves -1 tbsp lime juice -1 tsp sugar -1 tsp salt
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...