How a güero makes shrimp tamales

While at Zeitgeist, a sort of tattoo heavy urban beer garden where hipsters are plenty and fixed gear bikes rule, I was having a beer in the back yard at a picnic table and a  small Mexican woman approached me pulling a cooler, all she said was–Tamales.  Initially, I was unsure about buying food from a lady pulling a cooler around one of the dirtier bars I know,  but what the hell.  So I bought two, since I’m a glutton.  Best tamales I’ve ever had.  It wasn’t until later that night I found out that she was the infamous San Francisco Tamales lady.  Round these parts she is pretty famous for having the best tamales you have ever had.  It’s true.

So as I often do, I wanted to make my own version.  For me, that is what cooking is all about.  You take something that someone else made, and you make it your own.  It always bothers me when I hear of someone that doesn’t want to share a recipe, like they were the first ones to do it.  Newsflash people–unless your Ferran Adria or Grant Achatz creating some crazy mind bending stuff, it’s been done.  Get over yourself!

Anyway, I decided to create something I’ve never seen or eaten — shrimp tamales.  This may not be traditional, but who cares — I am güero.

I start with 2.25 # masa.  I buy my masa from the Mexican markets in the Mission district of San Francisco, basically Mexico.  I like to use Crisco for the lard element.  If I were making pork or beef tamales, then I would say use lard, but for shrimp. Crisco is neutral.  Mix the masa with 1 teaspoon baking powder first.  Once fully incorporated mix in lard by hand.

I recommend using gloves if you have some.  Crisco is some sticky stuff.

After you have worked it together and you have some pea-sized pieces, slowly incorporate stock.  I made a shrimp stock out of shrimp shells.  I work the stock into the mixture until it has a nice smooth consistency.  If you like your tamales harder and dry, then put less.  I like them more moist, so I did about 2-3 cups of stock.  Once mixed smooth it is time for the fun part.

Lay down your corn husks on the workspace.  If small, use two overlapping.  Spread the masa mixture on the husk, leaving about an inch gap from the edges(this is room for growth when cooked).  I like to make the masa nice and thin so you can really taste the filling as well.  I use a rolling pin and some wax paper to make it nice and even(cause I’m anal like that).

Next, fill them with whatever you like.  I chose fire roasted chiles, tomatillo salsa and rock shrimp.  The roasted chiles added nice texture and heat.

Now roll it up.  I focus on making sure the two outsides of masa touch when I roll it.  Once they touch, peel one side of husk away from the masa a little and slide the other side in.  Finish by wrapping the peeled side back over.  Fold the bottom(pointed end of husk), and you’re ready to steam.  Steam for about 20-30 minutes and let cool for 5 mins before eating.  I finished mine with more tomatillo salsa on top and fresh cilantro.  Wish I had some queso fresco to top it all off, but this time it will have to be buenos no cheese.  Next time I’m doing cheese on top too.

Mmmmmmm

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~ by Anotherfoodbloghuh? on March 21, 2011.

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