Just before Christmas, I saw a tweet go by from @Mexikacouk calling out for foodie bloggers who would like to review their tamales. As you know, if you've ever laid eyes on my globecooking recipe index, I love trying out exotic fayre and although I've frequently eaten Mexican food, both at home and in restaurants, I'd never tried tamales and wasn't even that sure what they were.
Time to investigate ! The Mexika website explains that they are packets of corn dough with a savoury or sweet filling, typically wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, that are a staple of Mexican cuisine and that date back to Aztec times. Further research online had me sniggering when I read about the unfortunate American president Gerald Ford who had a foodie mishap on a visit to the Alamo in 1976 when he tucked into a plate of tamales, corn husks and all, without realising he was supposed to unwrap them ! I bet someone's head rolled over that one !
I received three different types of tamales to review - Mild Pork in Red Guajillo Sauce, Chicken in Green Tomatillo Sauce and Vegetarian. My only slight criticism is that you're left to fend for yourself so I had to google to find out how to reheat them - apparently you can cook them fresh, frozen or thawed, by steaming, in the microwave or even in a dry pan. It would be good to have a few cooking instructions on the website.
I love the corn husk wrappers that look totally authentic and are presumably entirely natural and eco-friendly.
As we hadn't had a chance to eat the tamales before Christmas, I'd frozen them and decided to cook them from frozen in the microwave, adding a couple of tablespoons of water and heating two at a time for about 2-3 minutes until they were hot to the touch. Being careful you don't burn your fingers on the steam, you then unroll them from the cornhusk onto a plate.
We started with the Mild Pork in Red Guajillo Sauce ones which have a filling very similar to pulled pork. We laughed at the mild label because we thought they were pretty spicy, so "hot" must remove the roof of your mouth ! They were very tasty though.
The Chicken in Green Tomatillo Sauce ones were quite unevenly sized, which could be a pain if you're trying to serve equal portions but it is also the sign of what would appear to be a handmade product.
These ones were less spicy, taking their flavours from green tomatillos, onion, garlic, cumin, black pepper and coriander. They had a drier filling but the corn dough remains soft and moist, due to the steam building up inside the corn husks, so they don't seem dry when you eat them.
We finished off with the Vegetarian ones, which seemed quite bland in comparison, but that could be because we'd just eaten the spicier pork ones. They contain Jalapeño, cheese, tomatoes, onion and garlic. There is also another sweet vegetarian tamal available, filled with pineapple with sweet pumpkin angel hair, which sounds intriguing.
We weren't sure how to serve them so Madhouse Daddy suggested serving them with some rice, but they could be eaten as they are as a quick snack or party finger food. The corn dough is very soft so you could eat it one handed with a fork or spoon if you were standing up holding a plate. They are also gluten-free as they are made from 100% corn dough.
They are a seasonal product so are available for a limited time only, but Mexika stock a whole host of Mexican groceries in their online store, including corn husks and tamale corn flour, if you fancy having a go at making your own. Otherwise, you can buy the fresh ones that we tried for £2 each.
for more information : http://mexika.co.uk/
Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.