Corn Tamales

This appetizer-size tamale won first place in the 2014 Kaanapali Fresh competition — sweet roasted corn balanced with a slightly acidic fresh tomato emulsion, hinting of spice and smoke.

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with Corn Truffle Salsa and Smoked Tomato Emulsion

award winning corn tamales recipe

Recipe by: Executive Sous Chef Raymond Nicasio

Number of Servings: 6 four-inch or 12 two-inch tamales

Corn Tamales Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn, or enough to yield 1 1/2 c. kernels
  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1 c. masa harina (tamales flour)
  • 2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 large ti leaves (or rehydrated corn husks)
  • 1/2 c. Corn Truffle Salsa (See recipe below.)
  • 1 c. Smoked Tomato Emulsion (See recipe below.)

Corn Truffle Salsa Ingredients

  • 4 oz. huitlacoche, or canned corn truffle (available in Latin specialty stores)
  • 1 c. fresh corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 Tbsp. Maui onion, small dice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Smoked Tomato Salsa Ingredients:

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Maui onion, cut in half
  • 1 jalapeno, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. adobo (sauce) from canned chipotles (smoked hot chili peppers)
Method: Corn Tamales

1. Clean and remove the husks from the ears of corn, reserving and rehydrating the husks if you will use them as your wrap. With a knife, scrape the kernels off the cobs. Place the cobs in a pot, cover with water and simmer 30 minutes, then cool to lukewarm. This will be your corn stock. Place 3/4 c. kernels in a blender or food processor and puree until almost smooth. Set aside. Place vegetable shortening in an electric mixing bowl with a wire whip attachment. Set mixer on medium-high and whip shortening until light and fluffy.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, place masa harina, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly until well incorporated. Gradually stir 3/4 c. corn stock into flour mix until it forms a thick dough.

3. Change whip attachment to dough-hook attachment. Transfer the dough to the mixing bowl and add the ground corn and remaining corn kernels. Mix thoroughly. Dough will be quite sticky.

4. Remove the spines from the ti leaves (so you are left with 6 halves); wash, pat dry, and lay all 6 on a flat surface. Using a pastry bag, pipe dough down the length of each leaf, dividing all the dough equally and leaving space at both ends. Roll the dough in each leaf, making sure it is completely wrapped, then fold over the ends.

5. On a wire rack, steam the tamales over boiling water for 45 minutes with lid on.

6. Remove tamales from steamer and let rest 20-30 minutes.

7. Cut to desired length. Remove tamales from the leaf and serve with corn-truffle salsa and smoked-tomato emulsion.

Method: Corn Truffle Salsa

1. Put huitlacoche in a blender and puree until smooth.

2. Over medium heat, saute onion and bell pepper until tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add remaining 3/4 c. kernels to pan and saute until tender and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.

4. Add pureed corn truffle. Stir until completely coated.

5. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Stir until well incorporated.

Method: Smoked Tomato Salsa

1. Place first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl along with 1 tsp. salt. Mix. Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F; place mixture in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables have a slight char.

3. Transfer to a food-processor bowl and add the chipotle adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro. Puree for 30 seconds, till almost completely smooth.

4. Season to taste with remaining salt.


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