How do you steam tamales?

Introduction to Steaming Tamales

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made of masa dough, filled with various ingredients, and steamed in corn husks. Steaming tamales is a simple and effective way to cook them, preserving their texture and flavor. Steamed tamales are soft, moist, and flavorful, making them a popular dish for special occasions, celebrations, and family gatherings.

Steaming tamales requires a few basic tools and ingredients, including a tamale steamer, water, corn husks, and the tamales themselves. With the right equipment and a little patience, anyone can steam tamales at home and enjoy this delicious and authentic Mexican dish.

Preparing the Tamale Steamer

Before steaming tamales, it is important to prepare the tamale steamer. A tamale steamer is a pot with a steaming basket or rack that holds the tamales. To prepare the steamer, fill the pot with enough water to reach just below the bottom of the steaming basket or rack. Place the basket or rack in the pot, making sure it is stable and level.

Adding Water to the Steamer

Once the steamer is prepared, it is time to add water. The amount of water needed will depend on the size and shape of the pot, as well as the amount of tamales being steamed. Generally, enough water should be added to reach just below the bottom of the steaming basket or rack. It is important not to let the water touch the tamales, as this can cause them to become soggy.

Preparing the Tamales for Steaming

To prepare tamales for steaming, first soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. Then, lay the husks flat and spread a spoonful of masa dough in the center of each husk. Add the desired filling, such as shredded chicken, pork, or beef, along with any additional ingredients, such as cheese or vegetables. Roll the husk tightly around the filling, tucking in the ends to create a neat package.

Placing the Tamales in the Steamer

Once the tamales are prepared, they can be placed in the steamer. Arrange the tamales in the steaming basket or rack, making sure they are standing upright and not touching each other. It is important to leave enough space between the tamales for the steam to circulate and cook them evenly.

Covering the Tamale Steamer

After the tamales are arranged in the steamer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. If the lid is not tight enough, steam will escape and the tamales will not cook properly. It is also important to make sure the lid is not touching the tamales, as this can cause them to become sticky.

Steaming the Tamales

Once the steamer is covered, turn the heat on to medium-high and let the tamales steam for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until they are fully cooked. It is important to check the water level periodically and add more water as needed to prevent the pot from boiling dry.

Checking the Tamales for Done-ness

To check if the tamales are done, remove one from the steamer and let it cool for a few minutes. If the masa dough is firm and cooked all the way through, the tamales are done. If the dough is still soft or doughy, the tamales need more time to steam.

Removing the Tamales from the Steamer

Once the tamales are fully cooked, turn off the heat and carefully remove the steamer from the pot. Using tongs, carefully remove the tamales from the steaming basket or rack and place them on a plate or platter.

Letting the Tamales Rest

After removing the tamales from the steamer, let them rest for a few minutes to cool and set. This will help the masa dough firm up and hold its shape.

Unwrapping the Tamales

To unwrap the tamales, gently remove the corn husks from around the masa dough. The husks should come off easily, leaving the cooked tamales intact.

Serving and Enjoying Tamales

Once the tamales are unwrapped, they are ready to be served and enjoyed. Tamales can be eaten as is or topped with salsa, guacamole, or other condiments. They can also be served with rice, beans, or other traditional Mexican dishes. Steaming tamales at home is a simple and satisfying way to enjoy this delicious and authentic Mexican dish.

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Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

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