And tamales
are pretty traditional during Christmas time
for, you know, Mexicans. So here in LA,
people who even, who aren’t Mexican
seem to have that in their family
traditions also. My wife grew up
in Nicaragua, she’s not Mexican. So, for their
Christmases they’ve had, they have tamales also. My name is Wesley Avila. I’m the chef owner of Guerrilla Tacos here
in Los Angeles. And today we’re gonna do
some tamales home style, casera style in my house. With the tamal, first we’re gonna
have the masa, which is right here. It’s neastamo. So this is basically,
you know, hominy and corn that’s been ground. And then we’ve got
the husks right here that have been soaking for about 45 minutes in
really hot water so I get them really nice
and soft and pliable. For the filling we have
the squash, we have, tomatillos, tomatoes,
pasilla chile, guahillo, some bay leaves,
sesame seed, allspice and pumpkin seeds, and that’s
gonna be for the sauce. So when I cut
this bad boy. And I’m gonna use
a microwave to cook it. This one I would cut
into about this big. So this is a technique
that they actually showed me when I was in France,
which I was kinda like baffled when I saw
how fast it was. And this basically
cooks it without adding flavors, like you don’t
have to roast it with butter, or salt, or
thyme, or anything. Cuz I, what I want is
basically squash flavor with cheese and
the sauce. Yeah, the reason
I cook the, the squash in
the microwave, because I find
it easiest. You know,
you don’t have to, you don’t have to worry
about peeling it and cutting it and
portioning it, and cleaning up your whole
kitchen with the oven. A lot of people, a lot of chefs I know hate
on microwaves. They say oh, you’ll
never see a fucking microwave in my kitchen, and I don’t, I don’t
see the point in that. If you’re, if it’s
a tool why not use it? So this one I’m gonna put
in there about 15 minutes to 20 depending
how big it is, but these are kinda
smaller that I cut. Fifteen minutes on high. While that’s nuking we’re
gonna start the sauce. So first of all
we’re gonna wash these tomatillos really
well I’m gonna cut these tomatoes. This is just a really
basic sauce. For every tomato,
it’s four tomatillos, so, you know, I’ve got
16 tomatillos in there. So now, I’m putting the,
a little bit of olive oil in the pan, and I’m gonna
roast these chiles off. So I’m gonna roast
the dry stuff off, and then add on
the vegetables and stuff. Tje guajillo,
arbol and passia, these are pretty
basic ones. These are ones
you can find at Alyssa in California. They’re pretty
easy to find like any Ralph’s Whole Foods,
mexican places. I heated it up on high
first but then lowered it to medium cuz I wanted to
just get a little bit of color on it I don’t want
to, I don’t want to burn it, you know, and
add the other stuff. And this is the sesame,
pumpkin and allspice. So after all this
one’s going for a while, you can smell, like the aromatic stuff
starting to come out. And I’m gonna
add water to it. I’d say about a cup and
a half. Just enough to get the,
the tomatoes started and the tomatillos
without burning them. So and this will
just cook for about, I’d say about
ten minutes, so it’s all nice and soft
and then we’ll puree it. So now I just hit it
with some salt, and let this bad boy cook
down for a little bit. And then I’m gonna
grab the cheese and portion out the cheese. So, this is
Monterey Jack, California standard
Monterey Jack cheese. So we wanna cut it into pieces that are big
enough for the tamale and I don’t like to skimp on
it cuz a lot of people, when you get it from
places, when you get your tamales, you can barely
taste the cheese, so I like to put a nice
little fat slice. I’d say about this much. Now we’ll check
on the sauce. You just wanna get it. Make sure it’s all even. And then once you see the
tomatillos change colors, tomatoes get soft,
it’s ready to go. It’s actually pretty. It’s a very simple sauce. Seasoning’s good. And then we’ll
adjust once we start blending it. So you can start
to see that these tomatillos
are changing color. I don’t like to
go too long, cuz I don’t like
that really, really long over-reduced
kind of flavor. I like it a little
bit brighter, in my, in my experience. This one’s almost ready. Squash is done. This thing’s going to
be fucking smoking hot, you can see it’s
still bubbling. There you go. Any chef that says,
“Don’t use a microwave”, can go fuck himself. This one I’m gonna let
cool a little bit. The sauce looks
about ready. We’re gonna pull that
sauce out, puree that. See, it looks
all nice and soft, skin separating
from tomatoes, so this one’s ready to go. So this, you’re gonna leave
everything in there, the bay leaves, the allspice,
everything goes in. So on this one
we’ll start low and then go high. This sauce is
excellent on eggs too. You don’t need to just
use it for tamales. You can see
the consistency on that. It’s got nice,
nice, nice texture. I don’t know if it has
a name necessarily but I didn’t invent it myself
I learned this from, just kind of
from my aunts. So now we’ve got most of
our miesenfaas ready. Just gonna cut this one. So, in the squash I
want a good amount, too, about the same size
as the, as the cheese. Now I’m gonna
assemble these. There’s a couple
schools of thought on the tamales and
how you should wrap them. I, I just go simple and I
just use the corn husks. Some people
use wax paper, but I just
keep it simple. So you wanna drain the majority of
the water out of it. Grab about,
I’d say about a spoon. So I’d do about one and
a half of this. Masa is basically,
it’s corn. It’s all corn. Made really good masa
is very had to find. If you’re in LA,
it’s not that hard. You just go over to
Boyle Heights and there’s like 15 different
shops on Cesar Chavez, but if you’re not, these are the ones
that I make for myself. I don’t really do
anything fancy. I just make,
make them taste good. You can find masa at
pretty much any Mexican or Latino market. And then I use this
little spatula, this is from a craft
store I got maybe 11 years ago. It’s like a, just like
a little spatula, it’s got little edges. Something simple,
you can use a spoon, you can use a couple
different things but this has always
been easy, it’s just,
just like that. You don’t want it too
thin because if it’s too thin, they’ll over cook
and get gummy like, like dry and almost like,
like a stale chip. So you want a good
amount, but you don’t want too much. If you put too much masa
it’s fucking gross cuz it’s just like,
it’s just maza. So, now that they’re
at this stage, we’re gonna add
the filling. Just assemble. A nice wedge of that. At this point I’m just
gonna put a little sauce. If it’s a little messy,
it’s all right. You just want
a little bit to coat, like the same amount
as your stuffing. I mean, you can see it’s
pretty evenly spread. I’m just gonna fold once
over, give it a little, a little pinch. Another one and
then this, this other set’s
gonna work as a glue. So then you give
it a pinch at the tip, squeeze, and you can see the masa
going to the tip. Just fold, that’s it. If you had friends over,
one person’s on masa, another person’s
on stuffing, another person’s
on folding and then it makes it
go way faster. And then we
start stacking. You wanna have
a streamer or you can even use like
a wonton basket. Any kind of basket that
you can steam with. If you don’t have
a great, put this down, you grab a plate, put the
plate in the middle, then you layer just leaves
around and then you, you would start assembling
your tamales and I’ll start doing
that right now. So since we’re not
gonna do too many, I’ll put a little bit
of corn right here, so they don’t float around. Not too tight, and
not too loose, cuz you want them to be
standing at attention. So you put water,
you fill it however high your grate
is, fill it right under that,’ cuz you wanna
steam it on high, or else your tamales will
take four hours to cook, and they should not take
four hours to cook. You can see how
deep the water is. It’s just below
the grate, so you get a kitchen towel,
you wet it really, really good, and
you put this on top. It’s gonna help it
incubate that steam. So once you’ve got
your tamales going. Nice and tight with
the plastic wrap. The better seal that
you have on it, the better it’s
gonna steam. When you do large batches
of tamales you’re gonna have to fill it up
with water a second time cuz it’s just too many. But this small amount
shouldn’t require it. Now, we’re gonna
start it on high, and just lower it to
about medium high. You don’t want it too,
too high, because if it does
run out of water, you don’t wanna burn it,
or else your, it’s gonna, all your work’s
gonna go to shit. We’ll check it in
about 45 minutes, and then it should be done. This is kind of a riff on tamales that my
aunt would make. She used to make them
With, Jack Cheese and, Chili Rajas. So like just like roast
and Anaheim Chili’s peeled which
are fucking awesome. And this,
I just play with it so these will change
all the time too and it comes out excellent. So now we’re gonna see
if these are ready. It’s been cooking for about 45 minutes,
50 minutes give or take. Yeah, you got to
be very careful. It’s super fucking hot. Let’s see if it’s ready. So here you have it,
the finished product. It’s the squash tamale,
and a little bit of
sesame salsa. You can see the texture
on that nice and fluffy. Fuck me this is
fucking bomb. Smells so good.