The Delicious History of Steam Tamales

The Delicious History of Steam Tamales

Steam tamales are one of the most delicious Mexican specialties out there, but few people know the rich history behind this delectable dish. Tamales have been around in some form or another since ancient times, and thanks to the popularity of steam tamales in Mexico today, this tasty dish has become a national treasure. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the history of steam tamales!

Origins of the Steam Tamale

Steam tamales are a culinary tradition that originated in Mesoamerica, and they were originally used as a way to preserve food. The first people to enjoy the corn-based dish were the Aztecs, who would fill a cornhusk with spicy meat and vegetables, wrap it up tight, and steam it until it was cooked. Today you can find steam tamales made with just about anything from seafood to fruit. And while they’re typically served in Mexico during the Christmas season, you can find them all year round in places like the Bay Area or New York City.

 Today, steam tamales are typically served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as part of a traditional Christmas dinner. While they’re very similar to another holiday dish called pozole, they’re usually smaller in size and wrapped in plantain leaves instead of cornhusks. They’re also generally sweeter than pozole, with raisins added for extra flavor. The most common ingredients used to make tamale sauce are tomatoes, chili peppers and dried fruit like raisins or prunes. This mixture is often seasoned with onions, garlic and even spices like cinnamon.

Traditional Recipe for Steam Tamales

Tamales are made from masa dough, which is ground corn mixed with lard and water, then left to ferment for a day. The dough is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for about an hour. Once cooked, the tamale is taken out of the leaf and eaten warm with a sauce or salsa. The word ‘tamale’ comes from Aztec Nahuatl word tamalli which means wrapped food. There are two main types: savory tamales made with meat or vegetables (which can also be sweetened) and fruit-filled sweet tamales called dulces.

The Rise of the Modern Steam Tamale

Tamales have been around for centuries, but in the United States they date back to the mid-1800s. It’s believed that they were brought over by immigrants from Mexico who used corn masa as a substitute for corn tortillas, which were hard to come by in this country. In fact, tamale is Spanish for wrapped. The modern steam tamale has a moist dough made out of masa and lard or vegetable shortening and is cooked on a metal plate called a comal.

How to Make Steam Tamales at Home

You can make tamales at home with a little time, patience, and the right ingredients. The first step to cooking tamales is to prepare the masa dough. Mix 2 cups of masa harina, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. Add more water if needed until the mixture has an even consistency without any dry patches. Next, lay out 6-inch square pieces of banana leaves or corn husks on your work surface and set aside for later use. This recipe makes about 20 tamales so you may need more than one sheet depending on how many you plan to cook at once.

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Creative Variations on the Steam Tamale

– Enchilada: Filling is usually beef, chicken or pork with a red or green chili sauce. These are served in corn tortillas and topped with cheese, sour cream and/or guacamole.

– Tacos: The most popular filling for tacos is shredded carne asada (grilled skirt steak). Other fillings can include marinated pork, chorizo (Mexican style sausage) or fried seafood such as shrimp or fish. They are typically served in corn tortillas and topped with salsa and cilantro leaves.

– Burrito: The burrito includes a large flour or wheat tortilla that is filled with various types of ingredients like rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and/or guacamole.

 – Quesadillas: Tortilla filled with cheese and cooked in a frying pan or on a griddle. Other fillings can include chicken, beef, guacamole, chorizo and beans. They are typically served with salsa or sour cream.

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