5 Spice Tamales

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From Vegetarian Gourmet 1993, Don Matesz.  This a vegetarian tamale made with tofu, onion, bell pepper, soy sauce and mustard.
  • PrepN/A |
  • TotalN/A |
  • ServesMakes About 18 tamales


    • 1 lb tofu, crumbled
    • 2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 tablespoon onion, dried
    • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 teaspoon mustard, prepared
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Tamale Dough (Masa):
    • 4 cups masa mix for tamales
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 4 cups vegetable broth, warmed
    • 1 cup vegetable shortening


Combine filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a deep bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, and salt. Pour the broth into the masa a little at a time, working it in with your fingers. In a small bowl, beat the vegetable shortening until fluffy. Add it to the masa and beat until the dough has a spongy texture.

Drain Husks; Rinse, drain, and dry the corn husks. Set them out on a sheet pan covered by a damp towel along with the bowls of masa dough and filling.

Spread Masa; Start with the largest husks because they are easier to roll. Lay the husk flat on a plate or in your hand with the smooth side up and the narrow end facing you. Spread a thin, even layer of masa over the surface of the husk with a tablespoon dipped in water. The easiest method of spreading masa is with a masa spreader (see side panel for how this is used) Do not use too much, keep the masa thin. 

Add about a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of the masa. Fold the narrow end up to the center then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. The sticky masa will form a seal. Pinch the wide top closed.

Fold; the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make a long package. Fold the empty part of the husk under so that it rest against the side of the tamale with a seam.

Steam; Place the tamales in a steamer and cook tamales for 2 hours. Check every 20 minutes.  Do not let the water boil away. The tamale is cooked when it separates easily from the corn husk.
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