Friday, November 24, 2006

Tamales

Tico tamales!! My favorite food here in Costa Rica. One of my wife's aunts makes these things every once in awhile and sells them to the locals for 400 colones each (about 75 cents US). I usually buy about 15 of them and freeze a bunch to last awhile. Their preparation is a bit time consuming.

You start with maize (corn flour) the day before, soaking it in water and cooking it with a little salt. After it's cooked, you wash it, change the water and let it stand overnight. The next day you knead the maize into dough. You then boil potatoes, carrots, pork or chicken, and bacon in separate pots to cook and season with black pepper, coriander, cumin and salt. You take the water from the meat and add it to the dough and knead it to an intermediate consistency. She also adds some of the potatoes, diced, to the dough.

Then you take a banana leaf and cut it into pieces, almost square, about 14 x 16 inches. Put a few of tablespoons of dough, a tablespoon or two of cooked rice, a piece of meat, some ground chicharon (fried pork skin) , a slice or two of carrots, some coriander and a strip of chile dulce (sweet pepper). You wrap it all up in the leaf in the shape of a rectangle and tie it up with string, making sure that none of the stuff inside is exposed (I'm not sure of the technique here. I guess I could find out by paying attention when I untie and unfold one, but I'm usually too preoccupied with getting at what's inside!). Then place them in salted boiling water and cook for about an hour.

My inlaws unwrap them and place the leaf and tamal in a soup bowl with the banana leaf sticking out over the edges of the bowl. It's a nice presentation.

I'm sure that if I had to eat one single meal for the rest of my life and never be tired of eating it, this would be it!! That's saying alot!! Tico tamales!! Buen provecho!!

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