For those who do not eat a lot of Mexican food you may not know what Tamales are. Tamales are an old Pre-Columbian dish. A Tamale is believed to have originated in the Mesoamerica between North and South America. Mexican Tamales are one of the most well-known tamale. However, throughout Central and South America, you can find a lot of different variations of the tamale. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant loves to put the spotlight on various Mexican dishes, and today we will feature tamales!
What is a Tamale?
Tamales are a portable and complete meal in one convenient wrap. A tamale consists of a corn dough or Masa dough covering a filling. The dough and filling is then wrapped in a banana leaf or more common today, a corn husk. The tamale is then steamed to cook the dough to a firm texture. You then wrap the tamale and eat. This makes the tamale a perfect dish to eat while on the go. Tamales was a popular dish made by the ancient Aztec and Mayans. Tamales was made for traveling and for hunting trips. The dough and filling could be made in advance and cooked whenever they sat down for a rest. The husk or banana leaf protected and even helped to preserve the tamale. Traditionally, tamales was made using beans, squashes and roasted over a fire. When the Spanish brought chicken, pork, olives, raisins and other New World food, the tamale changed and became more elaborate.
What are Regular Tamales Made Of?
Even though a tamale seems pretty basic and has only three major parts which include the dough, filling and corn husk, there is a lot that goes into each component of the tamale. Today the tamale dough uses either a cornmeal or a masa. The masa or cornmeal is mixed with a broth, lard and is seasoned. When broth is used for tamales it usually comes from the meat that is used for the filling. For that more iconic tamale flavor, a Masa harina flour is used and wet until it makes a soft dough. The lard is another important part, as the lard helps to keep the masa from becoming too dry or pasty.
What’s Inside a Tamale?
The next major element is the filling. Everyone makes their own filling very differently. You can easily change up the flavor profile of your tamale by using different types of fillings. Tamales often have slow cooked meat such as beef, pork, chicken and sea food. You can also make a vegetable or fruit based tamale. Vegetable filling most often consists of potatoes, corn, carrots and peppers. A fruity tamale uses a wide range of dried fruit and olives. Cheese is another common ingredient used in tamales.
Are Tamales Made in Corn Husks?
The last element of the tamale is the corn husk or banana leaf. Most modern tamales will use a corn husk and you can find corn husks to wrap your tamales at the grocery store. When wrapping a tamale you first lay out the corn husk and put a ball of down towards the top. You spread out the dough, formed in a square. You lay your filling in the center of the dough. You then use the corn husk to wrap and hold the dough around the filling. The corn husk is rolled and folded and often tied down to be cooked. The corn husk is an essential element of a tamale.
Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Las Vegas, Nevada (Just Minutes from Summerlin, North LV, Paradise, Lone Mountain & Henderson, NV)
Tamales have been around for a very long time and has evolved to make a great tasting dish. If you want to try a tamale or have a major Mexican food craving, come on down to Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant today.