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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sweet Corn Tamales

¡Feliz cinco de mayo! Happy cinco de mayo!

I was poking around the book store on Sunday morning (went straight to the cookbook section, of course) and stumbled upon a new vegan cookbook: The Accidental Vegan. It was this tamale recipe that sold me. Wrapping something in corn husks sounds labor intensive but it's surprisingly easy and made me feel good about using all parts of the fresh corn... not to mention that this meal probably costs $5 (bargain!), is healthy, and let's not forget the most important... DELICIOUS.

I've already started thinking about the next tamale filling I'll play with... Accidental Vegan has tons of great filling ideas. These would also be amazing on the grill in the summer. I'm tamale-obsessed. Pour me a cerveza.

2 ears of fresh corn (save the husks!)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1.5 cups masa harina (*a Mexican corn meal that I couldn't find so I used yellow grits... worked great!)

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 serrano chili, minced
Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn
Handful of fresh chopped cilantro

1. Bring the water, salt, and olive oil to a boil. Turn off the flame and slowly stir in the masa or grits until a thick dough forms.

2. When it's cool enough to handle, form the masa into 2-inch balls and set aside.
3. Shuck the corn and reserve the husks.
4. Using a small knife, cut the kernels from the cob.
5. In a saucepan saute the onions and garlic in oil. Add the diced tomato and spices and cook until the tomato is totally broken down.

6. Add the beans (rinced and drained) and cilantro and cook until the beans are heated through.
7. Put one masa ball in the center of a corn husk and spoon a little bean mixture on top. Use the husks to wrap the tamale filling up into a little package. No need to tie or anything - just tuck the husk under the bottom and place the tamale into your bamboo steamer.
8. Fill a wok with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Place the steamer over the boiling water and steam the tamales until the contents are hot. We ate them with avocado and roasted acorn squash on the side. YUM.
What's are tamales?Tamales have been a central American staple since before those pesky Europeans showed up and ruined all the fun. According to the old faithful, Wikipedia, "tamales were developed as a portable ration for use by war parties in the ancient Americas and were as ubiquitous and varied as the sandwich is today."


  1. Hi! just saw this post in the Kitchn and it looks fabulous! I can't wait to try it!

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  3. FYI, one of the main locations where sweet-corn tamales (Spanish, singular: "tamal de elote") are popular is El Salvador. They make them during the sweet-corn season, and my husband grew up on them. Some varieties even freeze well; experiment with the kind you like and give it a shot!


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