Saturday, January 30, 2010

A review of "Tamales" [8]

Tamales by Daniel Hoyer
(Gibbs Smith, ISBN 978-1-4236-0319-1)

I love tamales. Take me to a Mexican restaurant and I am scanning the menu, looking for my tamales. But if your only tamale experience is the offerings of the local eating place, well then I think you experience is very limited. A pork..maybe a chicken...tamale, but that is it. Delicious...but sometimes we want more. Different fillings...different sauces, all wrapped in a delicious masa corn filling, steamed to lovely doneness. So I realize, to find that variety, I must strike out on my own and how happy was I to have receive a book for Christmas that will become my guide!

Every tamale has three basic parts. First, there is the corn exterior, made with a thick corn batter, the masa, and Mr. Hoyer thoroughly explains a couple of different techniques in making it. He explains what equipment you will need and what ingredients, all very well illustrated with beautiful photographs. We then go on to fillings and the variety offered in this book is impressive. Yes, a spicy pork is included but there are also beef, chicken, shrimp and a very nice variety of vegetarian options like Sweet Corn, Poblano Chile and Cheese, Black Eyed Peas and Mushroom, Roasted Peppers and Poblano Chile Tamales. Included in the book is also a whole chapter of sauces for your tamales from a quick Salsa Verde to a rather complicated but doable Oaxaca Style Black Mole.

Finally, there is a chapter on sweet tamales, made with a sweet masa and with fillings like Mexican Chocolate and Almond and Pineapple and Coconut. On my, that sounds tasty. Who knew?

Now, I have not made any of the recipes in this book yet but it looks like a very good tamale guide from what I can see. It is very clearly written and very informative about the whole subject. It is full of great photographs, not only of the finished product but of some techniques as well, helpful for we novices in things like tamale folding. And the variety of recipes is impressive.

I am off in search of a few chiles and some corn husk wrappers and I will soon be steaming me some tamales!

Any experienced tamales makers out there?
Any favorite recipes, any helpful hints?
Don't be shy, speak up before I screw them up and break my heart in disappointment. ;-)

This is my contribution this week to Weekend Cooking. Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I have never made tamales, but I can tell you that I love to eat them. This looks like a great way to learn a new dish.

    I had no idea that there were dessert tamales.

  2. I love tamales, but the thought of making them at home has always been daunting. I need to bite the bullet and take on the challenge...sounds like a great book to guide me through the process!

  3. I love to eat them but haven't made them. My favorite tamales are the ones that I find for sale on street corners in various parts of the West. I know they aren't health-code-approved, but oh so delicious. Good luck with your tamales. I hope you share again when you try one.

  4. I love tamales but take advantage of living in the southwest rather than trying to make my own.

  5. well, a great help you all are! lol

  6. if you sign up for the HGTV dream home give away, you would have the perfect home to make tamales. in new mexico!

  7. yes, Bandit, I was watching that last night. if I win, tamales every night!!

    BTW bandit, you never return your phone messages!

  8. I've never had a tamale/ I saw how to make them on the Food channel last week and was fascinated. This book sounds like a good read even if I never made them.

  9. I never had a tamale. (gasp!)
    But I bet they might go good with grape slushies.

    (How much mileage can we get out that joke?)

  10. the humor that is a grape shushie can go on, and on and on.
    Until the ice all melts.


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