Between cookbooks, e-books, and saved blog posts, I've got quite a collection of recipes to work from. So at this point, when I seek out a new kitchen resource, my number one priority is that it can teach me something new. I'm pretty adept at cooking up your regular everyday vegan dishes by now, so branching out into more fun and unusual recipes is my focus.
That's why I jumped at the chance to check out a copy of Vegan Tamales Unwrapped: A Step by Step Guide to Savory and Sweet Tamales from Dora Stone of Dora's Table and Mi Mero Mole.
These Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales were the very first batch of tamales born out of my kitchen. Ever! I loved the recipe and I absolutely loved the tamales. Jackfruit makes the perfect meaty vegan filling for a batch of tamales that will satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike. They were totally delicious, and fun to make too.
I was initially nervous about finding all of the ingredients, but they were available at my supermarket, which does happen to be pretty well stocked. If you have any trouble finding anything, try a Latin American grocer, and if all else fails, you can get everything you need on Amazon.
You can purchase Vegan Tamales Unwrapped: A Step by Step Guide to Savory and Sweet Tamales on Amazon.
Guajillo Chile Sauce:
- 20 4 oz. chiles, guajillo, dry, seeded
- 3 – 4 arbol chiles seeded
- 6 garlic cloves
- ½ onion white chopped
- 2 cups chile soaking liquid
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans 20 oz./ea green jackfruit
- 1 ½ cups guajillo chile sauce
- 1 cup 8 oz. coconut oil, room temperature
- 4 cups 1 lb. 2 oz. masa harina
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 ½ tbsp. salt kosher
- 1 ½ tbsp. cumin ground
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth or stock
- 1 ½ cups guajillo chile sauce
- To prepare the corn husks: Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
- To make the sauce, place the chiles in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and let cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles and reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid. Place the chiles, garlic, onion, and soaking liquid in the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and strain. You should end up with about 3 cups of sauce.
- To make the filling: Drain the jackfruit. Rinse, and pat with paper towels. Cut out the core of the jackfruit (tip of the triangle pieces), and cut pieces in half. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan set to medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the jackfruit and cook for 3 -4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Pour 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile sauce and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for 20 minutes or until jackfruit begins to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Use a fork to shred the jackfruit as it cooks down. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
- To make the dough, beat the coconut oil, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the baking powder, cumin, salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the coconut oil.
- Add half of the masa harina to the bowl, pour in half of the vegetable stock, and beat to incorporate. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina, vegetable stock, and 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile puree. Beat at low speed, until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary, add more vegetable stock until you reach that consistency. Taste the dough, and add more salt if necessary. It should be a little bit salty.
- For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
- Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
- To set up your steamer, fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
- To wrap the tamales, pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 - 4 inch square. Leave a border of at least ¾ inch on each side of the square.
- Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the filling, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
- Place the tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the pot, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
- Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.