Grandma’s Homemade Shrimp Tamales

Grandma’s Homemade Shrimp Tamales

Chile Paste
5 ancho chile pods - dried
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 tsp salt

Start by cleaning ancho chiles, remove stems and seeds, wash in cold running water.

Place cleaned ancho chiles in small pot, add water, boil until softened. Drain and place softened peppers in blender with garlic, cumin, salt and cold water; blend to consistency of pancake batter. If you desire hotter tamales, add one or two Cascabel chile pods. Set aside; this paste will be used in various stages of preparation.

Corn Husks
Husk preparation: (6-1/3 oz bag of Azteca), rinse in hot water, cleaning thoroughly. Soak cleaned husks in hot water for 30 minutes, longer won't hurt. I soak overnight depending on amount of tamales to be made (one less thing to do in the morning).

Shrimp Filling
1 stick butter
5 lbs shrimp (deveined, peeled, tails off)
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. lemon
2 cups Ancho chili paste

Rinse shrimp and chop finely. In large pot, melt butter and add shrimp, cumin, garlic and lemon. Sautee lightly and add ancho chile paste, leave on stovetop only for a couple of minutes, just enough to fuse the shrimp and chile with the rest of the spices. The shrimp should not be cooked fully, they will cook further when finished tamales are steamed.

Preparing Masa
5 lbs. Adam's Azteca masa at room temperature
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 cups ancho chile paste
1 cup hot water
1 lb. lard or vegetable shortening

Place masa in large bowl, combine salt, baking powder and lard. Mix for 5 minutes to ensure ingredients are combined evenly. Mixing lard evenly is important to prevent masa from sticking to husks during steaming. Add the chili paste and hot water, knead as required to produce soft, sticky dough.

Tamale Time
Open a husk and spread in your palm with scratchy side against your skin, waxy side up. Tamales will not fold properly if the masa is applied to the scratchy side. Apply a heaped tablespoon of masa mixture and spread with back of spoon, like spreading peanut butter on bread, about 1/16-inch thick.

Spoon about 1/2 tbsp of shrimp mixture in the middle of masa covered husk. Beginning with the right side, fold inward, and then fold left side the same. The top part of the husk is folded back and tucked where the two sides have met.

In large covered pot, place several balls of aluminum foil about 2-inch diameter. The balls of foil will prevent your strainer basket from settling into the water while tamales are steamed. Select strainer basket that is a good fit with your pot and arrange uncooked tamales in standing circular rows, open end up, fill strainer with enough tamales to keep them standing. Place a folded kitchen towel over tamales. Pour 2-1/2 quarts hot water over the towels, cover pot and place on stovetop. Heat to produce steam, not a hard boil or pot may go dry. If pot is larger than burner, rotate at 5-10 minute intervals to distribute heat evenly. Depending size of steamer and strainer you may have to run several batches. Steaming time is one hour. Yields about 7-8 dozen tamales.

Serve with pico de gallo and slice of lemon! Ummm, que bueno!

Thanks to Mrs. Carmen Zavala for sharing her family recipe, we hope you enjoy the taste and tradition of her homemade shrimp tamales!