In our Harvest 2010 issue of Edible East Bay, writer Patricia Hayse Haller revealed the discovery of real Mexican corn growing at Ramirez Farm in Fremont. (Read the story here…) Mexican corn is the required ingredient for fresh corn tamales. Since these are different from the more typical tamales made of dried masa harina, we wanted to include a recipe. However, in order to create and test a recipe, we needed the corn, and when we went to press in mid July, it was not yet mature. August 6, 2010, we visited the farm and brought home a dozen ears of the first harvest.
Tamale Trial #1
Following farmer Ramon Ramirez’s instructions, we carefully cut around the base of the ear and unrolled the husks to use as wrappers. Then we cut the kernels off the cobs, saving the cobs to use as a base in the steamer. First we tried putting the kernels through the Kitchen Aid grinder, but that piece of equipment was not up to the task, so we switched to the food processor. After grinding the kernels to a soupy batter, we stirred in 1½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and ½ teaspoon baking soda, and then scooped ½ cup of the batter into one of the reserved husks, folding up on end, nestling the packet into another husk, folding the end of that and then standing the packet up inside the steamer on top of a layer of cobs and an inch of water. Repeating the operation, we came up with 10 packets, which we steamed for 30 minutes. Results? Pretty darn delicious. While the batter was really runny when it went into the husks, the tamales were moist after steaming but well formed as we popped them out of the packets.
We are hoping to enlist some of our local Mexican chefs for Tamale Trial #2 and beyond, so if you are interested in participating, please get yourself down to Ramirez Farm for some Mexican corn and then send in a description of your results to: email@example.com.
Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Edible East Bay