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My family makes tamales every year on the day after Thanksgiving to eat on Christmas. Traditionally they use pork for filling, but they'd make some bean filled ones too, which my sister and I (both veg) have enjoyed.

So this year we decided to make our own, but now we're starting to realize that even the bean filled ones are not very vegetarian! The masa (batter) used to make them is made using lard, and the liquid from boiling the meat is also used in making the masa, even for the bean tamales. I talked to several family members and they said it would probably be ok to replace the lard with vegetable shortening, but without using either lard or the liquid from the meat they don't think they're going to be very flavorful.

Has anyone here ever tried to make veg*n tamales? We're going to try different things like using vegetable broth to flavor the masa, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd really appreciate it
We are vegetarian btw, not vegan, but if they can be made vegan that's even better!
 

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Yes, I make vegan tamales quite often. The trick is to make everything from scratch.

I use a variation of a recipe from this book: http://www.amazon.com/Taste-Mexico-V.../dp/1570670285

Tamale Dough:

8 cups masa flour/ harnia

5 1/2 cups room temperature water

4 tsp sea salt

2 1/2 cups corn oil

Combine the above and kneed for 10 minutes and smooth.

Chile Black Bean tamale filling

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion finely diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium pimento or red pepper, finely chopped

2 medium poblano chiles roasted, peeled and chopped

6 plum tomatoes peeled and chopped

salt to taste

2 cups refried beans

Saute onion and garlic 5 minutes and then add pimento, poblanos and tomatoes and cook stirring constantly. Cook until pimento is soft, add salt and remove from heat. Put the refried beans in a bowl.

Using a softened corn husk, spread about 1/4 cup of tamale dough up and out from teh base of the husk using the back of a soup spoon. Spoon 1 tbsp or so of tomato-chile mixture into the center of the masa, then place a spoonful of refried beans over the top. Fold over the corn husk wrappers and tie on each end. Steam for 1 hour.

Sometimes I make Mexican seasoned TVP and mix it into the chile mixture and omit the refried beans, which makes constructing the tamales a bit easier.
 

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Like Mr. Falafel said, make it all from scratch (which it sounds like you do already). I have better luck with the masa if I use coconut oil, it has a texture more closely resembling lard <<shudder>> or solid vegetable shortening. Just use LESS coconut oil than lard or shortening. I can't tell you how much less, experiment to see what works, but you'll LOVE the end results, I promise!

A good flavorful vegetable broth will also work instead of (better than!!) the meat broth, try several brands to see which one you prefer. Add some sauteed, fresh onions or garlic and herbs if it seems a bit bland (a lot of the commercial ones are mainly salt).

My absolute favorite tamales are black-bean and sweet potato, pinto and green chile, sundried tomato and olive, or green chile and pepper-jack cheese (not vegan, I miss those...). I don't have recipes, I just put stuff in...

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
 

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Any secrets to making tamales that aren't too crumbly or dry? I've tried different variations of oils, in differing amounts, but they always turn out a bit crumbly. If I add more oil, they're just too oily. Mainly, I just stick with simple "just corn" tamales because my little girls are at the age when "weird" looking stuff won't be touched.
 

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I use coconut oil in place of the lard. It works really well! (Lard is a saturated fat, and coconut oil is too, so the substitution works well. You can use less coconut oil than lard or they will turn out oily. Just measure out the same amount as the recipe calls for, warm it to a liquidish runny state and add about 2/3 the amount, mix it into the masa and keep adding a little until the masa is nice and smooth.)
 

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Yeah, I've used coconut oil, too, in differing amounts. I've tried whipping it first, or mixing it with corn, olive, or canola oils, and they're still crumbly. I think I may start experimenting with different masa brands. I've really only ever used two different brands. I'm also wondering if I steam them too long or not long enough. I usually just do one hour of steaming. At least they taste good...before they fall apart.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailMix View Post

Any secrets to making tamales that aren't too crumbly or dry? I've tried different variations of oils, in differing amounts, but they always turn out a bit crumbly. If I add more oil, they're just too oily. .
maybe you aren't using enough broth...

i use 3 parts maseca, 2 parts broth, 1 part oil for great masa!

also it's important not to work the masa too much, once it combines, stop mixing.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tofu-N-Sprouts View Post

Oh wow, random old thread. But this was a good one, 'cause veg*n tamales are the BESSSTTTTT!!!1!!!
Agreed! I make loads of small ones and keep them in the freezer. For a quick Mexican feast its refried beans, spanish rice and defrosted tamales with a chipotle sauce and soya sour cream on top. Good eatin'!
 

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If you ever feel a bit on the lazy side, Whole Foods sells a kick butt vegan tamale. My omni daughter prefers them over the meat eater version.
 

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I grew up eating tamales made with pork. When I became a vegetarian I came up with my own version of veggie tamales that are just as good as the ones my mom and sisters make. I start with the masa by "Mama Lola's" It comes in 5lb bags and only has the corn meal, salt and water. I melt Crisco (yeah it's not the healthiest but sometimes you have to be a little bad) and add that, a little canola oil, and some salt until it is the consistancy of a thick paste. I spread that on the corn husk. In place of the pork I use Morning Star Veggie Steak Strips that I preheat enough to cube and then add my red chili. I make my chili using red chili pods boiled until they are soft. Then I blend them well in a blender, strain the red chil and add garlic and salt to taste. I steam them until the masa is cooked and then pig out. I have had vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends tell me they would pay for me to make them some.
 
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