Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Perfect Tamale

I just had the world's most perfect tamales last night.

I'm not one for fusion cuisine (aside from Hawaiian fare). Ponzu sauce served in trendy serving mini-bowls, pretentiously obnoxious restaurants like the Marina's Betelnut, et al. make my eyes roll to no end. But what I believe to be an accidental Sino-Mexican concoction made out of necessity (and lack of "proper" ingredients) is actually genius.

A lady from Mexico made some tamales as a holiday gift. They were not wrapped in corn husks or even plantain leaves. Rather, they were wrapped in lotus leaves. The same kind used in zongzi, a pyramid-shaped hunk of glutinous rice wrapped in said leaves. My hunch is that the woman couldn't find corn husks and went to the local Chinese grocery store and bought the only leaves available. As I peeled open the tamale, the sweet, smokey aroma from the leaves were familiar and delirium-inducing. The fact that I was smelling what I associated with Chinese zongzi but was seeing a very Mexican tamale left my brain confused.

Lotus-leafed zongzi

These tamales were incredibly thin and flat. Between the thin veneers of masa was a bit of pork. The meat was not used as substantive filling but rather more for flavor. I used what was left of a bottle of Bufalo chipotle sauce on them. I will never forget how well everything blended together. This is the first bottle of Bufalo I have ever purchased and I was rather disappointed with it. I had tried it on arroz con pollo, fried eggs, even turkey sandwiches. They did not taste great. Now, I finally understand why Bufalo is the top sauce brand in Mexico. It was meant for Mexican food.

In the fridge right now are more tamales, from a different cook. They are wrapped in corn husks and are much fatter. I'll try them today, after I pick up some more Bufalo sauce.


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