Tamales are Mexican food made with a mixture of cornmeal (masa), meat, red or green sauce, and spices and wrapped in a corn husk. Warming the tamales properly prevents them from becoming too soggy or not being heated throughout. Reheating thawed tamales works faster, but frozen tamales can be reheated in a little longer time. Tamales make great, quick meals and fill up on their own, but serve with rice and pinto beans for a full meal.
1. Place a steamer basket in the pot or pan and add water until the water reaches just the backplane. Don’t overload – you don’t want the tamales sitting in the water, as this will cause them to get soggy and eventually fall apart.
2. Heat the water to a boil, then lower the heat to low. You don’t have to keep boiling going all the time; Simmering will keep the steam rising and the water will not cook as quickly.
3. Place the tamales in the pot, finish, and close the lid. If you only have one or two, you can fix them lengthwise. Be careful of the steam when placing the tamales in the pot. It is best to use tongs or a spatula to place them. Also, unless the tamales are very well packaged, be aware that the envelopes could open and pour the filling.
4. Heat the tamales for 20 minutes. If the tamales are frozen, they will need about 10 minutes more. Make sure you have enough water in the bottom of the pot for extra steaming time and add a little if needed. Tamales are cooked when the corn husk cleanly pulls away from the masa.
5. Carefully remove the cover and look to escape steam. Remove the tamales carefully with tweezers. You may want to hold a spatula underneath in case the corn husks start to split.
Tips and Warnings
Tamales can be heated in a microwave, but tend to dry out. Wrap the tamale in a damp paper towel and heat for 3 to 5 minutes.