Christmas tamales!

By Mark Wiens 13 Comments
Corn husks to make tamales
Corn husks to make tamales

It had been many years since I had last spent Christmas in the US, and it had been equally as many years since last feasting upon tamales.

You’ve probably already heard me say a few times that Mexican food is about the only food I miss living in Thailand, so this year I made up for it.

A tamale is a special food eaten in parts of Mexico and Latin America especially during festivals and holidays.

Christmas is a quite a popular time to make and eat tamales, and I headed over to my friend’s house to cook and indulge in some.

Mix of beef and pork chile
Mix of beef and pork chile

There are basically three main parts to any tamale: corn husk, masa, and filling.

You begin with a corn husk, used as the wrapper, masa, which is a combination of cornmeal and lard, and some kind of spiced meat or filling.

Assembling a Mexican tamale
Assembling a Mexican tamale

To make a tamale you first grab a cornhusk, spread a thin and even layer of masa (it’s sort of the consistency of cookie dough) over the bottom half of the husk, pile on some meat, and wrap it up like a package.

Steaming the tamales
Steaming the tamales

My friend had the idea to make Thai green curry tamales, so along with the more traditional red chile, we also made a few dozen fusion Mexican Thai tamales.

After wrapping about 10 dozen fresh tamales, we steamed them for about 30 minutes.

Plate of hot and fresh tamales
Plate of hot and fresh tamales

The tamales came out beautiful, and as soon as they exited the steamer, we were ready to dig in.

Unwrapping my Christmas gift
Unwrapping my Christmas gift

In order to eat a tamale, as you probably already know, you fist unwrap it like a gift, and toss out the corn husk.

I like my tamales with some salsa (not yet applied) and beans
I like my tamales with some salsa (not yet applied) and beans

The cornmeal masa should be moist yet firm, and the meat should be almost slightly melted into the middle, a result of the steam cooking.

The green curry tamales were pretty good, a tad sweet from the coconut milk and refreshened by basil and other herbs.

The traditional beef and pork chile, were amazing. The masa was like a smooth cornbread, and the meat was enhanced with red chile, olives, and jalapenos.

One of many plates of tamales
One of many plates of tamales

Over the course of Christmas eve day and Christmas day, I took my fill of tamales, and they were fantastic.

Here’s the video of the Christmas tamales!

(If you can’t see the video, you can watch it on YouTube here)

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading my articles and watching my videos. I gratefully appreciate your support!



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  • Tom

    2 months ago

    Most of the Mexican modern cuisine is actually based on tradition precolombian food being the corn the most basic element. Yucatan peninsule offer some of the best culinary specialities of the country. The food is only one out of many other things i make the people discover through daytours & Expeditions in Yucatan Peninsule and Chiapas. If you want do learn more about ecotourism & food in south Mexico, take a look at wwwtommynatureguide.com
    Saludos y buen provecho!

  • tomosaigon

    3 years ago

    Mouthwatering. One of my fondest memories of traveling to Mexico was eating various (many different types, surprisingly) of tamales with moles. Nothing fancy, I’d eat them off the street and at bus stations. Really wish that corn was more of a staple in this part of the world.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey, great to hear about your memories eating tamales with mole, sounds wonderful. Yah, corn is a wonderful staple!

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica

    3 years ago

    I like this Christmas tradition!

  • Renuka

    3 years ago

    I share your love for different kinds of cuisines. 🙂 I had never heard of Tamales. Now I’m curious to taste it. Thanks for serving yet another scrumptious post!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Renuka, glad we share a love for food, I think you’ll enjoy these!

  • Aaron

    3 years ago

    Great post Mark! We traditionally top our Christmas pork tamales with a salsa made of diced tomatoes, diced jalapeños, cubed cooked carrots, cubed cooked radishes, orange juice, Mexican oregano and salt. It sounds a little funny but the flavor combination is incredible!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Aaron, thank you for sharing. That sounds wonderful on top of tamales!

  • Maria

    3 years ago

    I highly approve Mark! Those look so good, don’t think I’ll sleep tonight for dreaming of them.

  • Mike | Earthdrifter

    3 years ago

    Tamales are a healthy and very affordable option. I can only imagine what the red chili must have done to enhance the otherwise bland masa. Those had to have been some very delicious tamales.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Mike, yah I agree, that bit of meat chile really makes them flavorful!