Sweet Corn Tamales

Posted: Updated:

Mexican tamales are packets of corn dough (masa) with a savory or sweet filling. They are typically wrapped in cornhusks or banana leaves, but other wrappings include avocado leaves or other nontoxic leaves, and even paper or bark.

The history of tamales dates back as far as 5000 BC, and tamales of old came in all shapes and sizes. There were meat, seafood, vegetable, nut, and fruit tamales. Some were filled with the corn dough masa we use today, and some were not. Crushed rice or beans could be used instead of the masa, or there was no masa used at all. Tamales were steamed, grilled, roasted, boiled, or even fried. Compared to what we are used to today, formerly there was quite a variety of tamales. Many variations of ingredients can be used in making tamales, such as a combination of beef, pork, chicken, roasted corn, shrimp, or even fried beans. This recipe is a simple version of Salsa Brava’s sweet corn tamales. They can be labor intensive, but can also be fun for the whole family. Tamales freeze well, and our kids love to take them to school for lunch.

1 bundle hojas (cornhusks)
5 pounds fresh masa, or dried maseca prepared per package instructions
1½ cups canola oil or olive oil
1 tablespoons salt
4 cups of fresh corn kernals
4 cups of pureed fresh corn kernals

1. Soak the cornhusks in the sink or a large pot of warm water for about 2 hours or until they are soft. Separate them gently, being careful to not tear them.
2. Combine the masa, oil, salt, all corn kernals. Using a mixer, blend until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Place 2-1/2 to 3 ounces of masa into corn husks.  Spread the masa (1/8 - to ¼-inch thick layer, or to preference) on the cornhusks. Fold up the ends.
4. Place the tamales, fold down, in a steamer with 1 to 2 inches of water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam for about 30 minutes. (Tamale steamers can be found at specialty cooking stores.)
5. May also stuff with shrimp, pork or other favorite meat.

Makes 3 to 5 dozen