You are wondering whether Tamales are gluten-free, the answer is that you can enjoy attractive tamales without worrying about gluten-related health issues.
Tamales are traditional dishes made from corn dough with delicious filling from meat to vegetables or whatever you want and covered in the corn husks, cooked by steaming, and usually eaten with salsa.
The traditional way to consume them is in Mexican-style breakfast or dinner. Therefore, it would be better if you can prepare other accompaniments to enjoy along with your tamales. But is it easy to make tamales? The answer is yes.
When you know the ingredients and how to make Tamales, you can enjoy them in your way.
This article will help you better understand Tamales and give you some recipes to make this dish yourself at home.
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Table of Contents
What Is Tamales?
Tamale is a unique dish known as Mesoamerica, the land between North and South America, and Tamales Mexico versions are the most famous. Currently, it is in the cuisine of many Chinese and South American cultures with different cooking styles. Tamales are the symbol of street food in Mexico, and it also appears on special festivals or national celebrations.
Tamales are made from Masa, filling, wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, and it is often served with spicy sauces. Depending on each culinary culture and eating preferences that some ingredients may vary.
It is everyone’s favorite dish with attractive flavors; however, many people are concerned with this dish because they suffer from gluten intolerance. So what is gluten, and what happens if these people eat it.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten belonging to the protein family is much in cereals such as wheat and rye, most commonly wheat.
For each specific cereal that will carry a different protein root, for example, glutenin and gliadin in wheat, the secalin is in the rye, and hordein is in the barley.
When heated, these proteins form an elastic network capable of keeping gas, allowing enameling and maintaining moisture in the bread, pasta, and other similar products. Therefore, it is often used as an additive to improve texture and increase moisture for food.
It provides various benefits of culinary functions and creates soft, tough texture and many foods made from cereals.
Side Effect Of Gluten Intolerance
When the body does not tolerate gluten, you may encounter some of the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea, abdominal, abdominal pain, constipation, digestive issues
- Rash, eczema, dermatitis
- Confusion, fatigue, anxiety, numbness, depression, lack of concentration, hard to say
- Weight loss, lack of nutrients, impaired immune function, osteoporosis, headache, anemia
How To Make Gluten-Free Tamales
You can have tamales completely gluten-free, and to ensure they do not contain gluten, you need to know exactly their ingredients.
To help you enjoy these attractive tamales without worrying about gluten health problems, I will give you detailed instructions right below. Let’s follow it.
To serve gluten-free tamales, you need to create Free-Gluten Masa, Free-Gluten Fillings, and Free-Gluten Sauces.
Masa is made from cornflour mixed with water, lard, and spices until a soft powder formation. In particular, Masa Harina is a popular corn flour product used for making tamales. The use of pig grease when creating Masa makes it not too dry or paste.
There are many alternatives to masa harina as well if you can’t find them in the nearest stores. Or you can refer to some gluten-free masa for tamales on amazon.com, such as Maseca low in fat Masa or Gold Mine Yellow Corn Masa Harina.
Masa will turn into a thick paste when mixed with warm water or broth, maintaining its shape when added to the corn husks. You can find gluten-free masa products at retail stores or on Amazon. Note that check the label to make sure they don’t contain gluten.
The composition of tamale fillings will vary from region to region, bringing cultural features unique to each area and creating a novelty for enjoying.
Most tamales are filled with slow-cooked seasoned meat, be it chicken or pork, plus other foods like vegetables, carrots, cheese, and fruit. That’s why it is a famous crockpot cooking idea in Mexican style. So if you have this cookware at home, try to make tamales someday.
Some ingredients for gluten-free tamale filling include non-floured, non-breaded meat and fish, vegetables, natural cheese, fruits, Quinoa, and potatoes.
Tamales are often served with salty and spicy sauce, and you can refer to some sauces on the market, such as mole, salsa, red chili, or enchilada sauce.
Red Chili Sauce: A combination of dried Pasilla, New Mexico, or California Chilis with garlic and cumin flavors.
Mole: It is a sauce made from chocolate
Verde (green) sauce: is a mixture of tomatillos and jalapenos, and some other spices
Red Salsa: Includes red tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, onions, and cilantro.
Alternatively, you can make your gluten-free sauces from the following foods: fresh chiles, onion, garlic, oils, butter, cinnamon, chocolate, gluten-free pork.
How Can Gluten Get Into Tamales?
The ingredients that make tamales are non-natural gluten, but gluten can get in different ways during the manufacturing process, such as cross-contamination. Cornstarch can be contaminated with gluten when processed in the same plant with wheat, or corn kernels grown in wheat fields are also at increased risk of gluten contamination.
Besides, gluten can come from preservatives, such as MSG, Modified Corn Starch, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Vegetable gum, Maltodextrin. Therefore, if you want to make gluten-free tamales, make sure the ingredients do not contain these substances.
How To Make Tamales At Home
You can create different tamale tastes, but there is soft powder with a filling that can be anything from meat to vegetables, steam, and serve with salsa. Therefore, Tamales’ steps will not be much different, and here I share with you the basic steps to do any kind of tamales at home.
Before You Start
To make delicious tamales, you need to invest in time, meticulousness, and patience because it requires a lot of preparation and processing stages. However, in return, you will have a beautiful and flavored meal.
You will make everything easier when you understand the process of making tamales, and I will give you detailed instructions to make these delicious cakes. Let’s explore immediately!
What You Need
To make tamales at home, you need to prepare ingredients and tools.
- Corn husks or banana leaves
- Tamale dough
- Ingredients for filling may have chicken, pork, vegetables. It depends on your choice.
- Spices such as salt, onions, garlic, chili, blooms, and wealth oil
- Ingredients for making chile sauce such as tomatoes, chili, pepper
- Big pot or bowl to soak corn husks
- Bowl to knead the dough
- Blending machine
- Cooking pans
The main steps for making tamales:
- Step 1: Soak the corn husks
- Step 2: Cook the filling
- Step 3: Knead the dough
- Step 5: Spread dough on corn husk
- Step 6: Add filling
- Step 7: Fold the husk
- Step 8: Steaming Tamales
- Step 9: Make chile sauce
How To Make Traditional Pork Tamales?
Tamales are one of South America’s favorite foods and often appear during holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving Day, or daily meals.
Meat-filled tamales are a traditional recipe and are popular with many people, making them a perfect dinner for families. So if you are so into Mexican cuisine, let’s surprise your beloved people with these treats.
To make these traditional tamales follow the tutorial below.
To make traditional pork tamales, you need to prepare one corn husk package, making tools and ingredients to make the dough, filling, and sauce.
For The Filling
- 1 pound pork shoulder
- 2 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ onion
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of canola oil
- 1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano
For The Dough
- 3 cups masa harina for tamales
- 1/3 cup of canola oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoons of baking powder
For The Sauce
- 1 pound tomato
- 4 peppers
- ½ onion
- 1 garlic clove
Steps To Make Pork Tamales
Step 1: Soak the Corn Husks
Give one pack of corn husk into a large pot or bowl with warm water and sufficiently flood the corn; you should use heavy objects like a cup or a bowl to make sure the corn cover is submerged.
Step 2: Cook Pork
Cut pork into small pieces, add pepper and salt. Place marinated pork into a pan with 1/2 onions,1 garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, and 1/3 cup of water.
Boil on a big fire, about 5 minutes, then reduce fire, cover and cook for about 1 hour and a half until the pork is soft and can tear.
Step 3: Make The Chili Sauce
While waiting time of cooking pork, you can prepare the chili tomato sauce. Slice about five tomatoes into the pan, along with 1/2 onions, 1 garlic cloves, 4 peppers, and 1 inch of water.
After boiling the mixture, reduce fire, and wait until the mixture blends and softly. It takes about 12-15 minutes. After that, pour this mixture into the bowl to cool.
Step 4: Make The Filling
Put sliced tomatoes, chip chili, onions, garlic, and 1/4 cup of water into the blender and grind until the mixture smooth. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil with this mixture and pork.
Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 spoon oregano Mexico, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes for the flavors to blend.
Step 5: Knead The Dough
Mix Masa Harina powder with cooked pork water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and baking powder until moderate soft. You should use an electric hand mixer to mix well and make light powder and cotton.
Step 6: Make Tamales
Take the husk and eliminate water, spread the amount of the dough on the husk, do not cover the whole husk. Add filling in the center of the dough and fold the husk.
Step 7: Fold The Husk
Folding corn husks along both sides and folding one head, you can use a corn cord to tie tamales. You do things for the next Tamales cakes.
Step 8: Steam Tamales
You should use a quality tamale steamer, put the water into the tool, then place tamales into it. Do not let them come into contact with water, cover with corn husks, and steam for about 40 minutes until the tamales are cooked.
You should let Tamales cool for 10 to 15 minutes before eating to stiff and better.
Here I give you a video on how to make pork tamales at home; you can watch and follow it.
How To Make Vegan Tamales?
You can make tamales according to many different recipes, and it’s not too difficult to make a batch of vegetarian tamales for dieters.
Here I suggest you making mushroom tamales for vegetarians with the following ingredients:
For The Filling
- ½ pound of mushroom
- ½ onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ corn oil
- 2 teaspoons of vegan cheese
For The Dough
- 1 package of cornhusks
- 3 cups Masa harina
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
For The Sauce
- 4-6 tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 peppers
- 1 garlic clove
Steps For Making Vegan Tamales
Step 1: Soak The Corn Husks
Put the corn husks in a warm water pot for about 40 minutes until the shell is soft.
Step 2: Make Masa
Mix tamales powder with oil, salt, and vegetable stock, and add more baking powder. Stir the mixture well until it is soft and pliable without sticking
Step 3: Make The Filling
Put the chopped onion, garlic, and corn oil in a pan and cook for about 5 minutes until it’s fragrant and translucent. Then add the chopped mushrooms and add salt, pepper and cook for more than 5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Add vegan cheese, stir evenly and turn off the heat.
Step 4: Assemble The Tamales
Take out the soaked corn husks, remove excess water, strip out, add 1/3 cup of dough, spread evenly along with the corn husk like a rectangle.
Place two teaspoons of filling on the dough, then fold the corn husks in the long way to cover the Masa and fold the other end. You can use strings from corn husks to tie the tamales. Continue doing so until the ingredient runs out.
Step 5: Steaming Tamales
After wrapping the tamales, you put them in the steamer for about 35-40 minutes. Take care not to let them come into contact with water.
Step 6: Making Sauce
While you are waiting for the tamales to steam, you can make the chili sauce by adding the chopped tomatoes, garlic, chili, and salt to the blender until they are pureed.
Boil a little oil on a hot pan and pour this mixture to boil for about 5 minutes until they blend together and smell. Then pour it into the bowl. After ripening, let tamales cool for about 5-10 minutes and serve with sauce.
A video will give you another recipe to make vegan and vegetarian tamales. Watch it to know more.
Let’s keep reading useful tips to make the perfect Tamale batches for your family.
- Even if you do tamales in any recipes, you should give a bit of salt to the filling because the salty taste is the characteristic of Tamales.
- Make dough light and airy before spread it on corn husks.
- If you use fresh Masa, use it within 1-2 days after buying, so it is not sour.
- You can make filling before one or two days and preserve it in the refrigerator if you don’t have much time to do Tamales on the same day.
- Do not give more dough and filling because they can spill out when steaming.
- Don’t fold corn husk too tight because the tamales will bloom when steaming.
There are some frequently asked questions about tamales with their answers. I hope it will be helpful for you when making tamales.
Expectations Vs. Reality
Tamales are attractive dishes, capable of diversity, and suitable for many occasions. When you understand the tamales thoroughly, you can do it in any formula, including gluten-free tamales. I now find that making gluten-free tamales is not too difficult; I just know exactly about its ingredients. Masa is basically only corn flour, but some manufacturers will add wheat components to create flavors and preservative properties. Therefore, please look for Masa products with free-gluten labels!
I hope this writing provides you with useful information. Let’s try making tamales at home with these instructions!