Spicy Salmon Tamales

Hello dear readers!  Boy do we have a special treat for you this week!  Since Cinco-de-Mayo is coming up (tomorrow! May 5th), the annual celebration of Mexico’s victory over France, what better challenge than TAMALES!  Now, just to make the record straight, there are so many varieties of Tamales – from Central American tamales that are wrapped in plantain leaves, to Mexican tamales, wrapped in corn husks – Daniel and I both used corn husks for our recipes, but by all means, experiment for your own!  Wouldn’t it be awesomely crazy if you made tamales using grape leaves stuffed with chicken and topped with Korean BBQ sauce?  Talk about the ultimate Greek/Mexican/Korean mashup!

I’ll admit though, this one took me some time to experiment.  Especially being gluten-free, and corn-free, I was a little hesitant on my attempt at making a dough, but after some trial and error I think I got something pretty solid here.  Not the prettiest looking tamales but they taste good so that’s a plus. 🙂

I first tried to make a “dough” using ground flaxseeds and chia seeds, adding in some hot water with some spices and hot sauce but it just didn’t turn out at all – more like a gloppy mess.  Even adding in almond flour, the dough just went “bleh” in the corn husks and totally fell apart.  On to round two!

This should have been a no-brainer but once I decided to go full on almond flour base, there was no turning back.  I do have a little tip for the veggie stock! Doesn’t matter if you use homemade or boxed, but I froze some stock in ice cube trays (or in my case, some cute square-shaped trays).  Then all I have to do is pop out a few cubes of stock, pop them in the microwave to defrost and you’re good to go!  I like having some on hand in the freezer if I just need a little bit but I don’t want to keep an opened box of stock or jar of homemade – this way I just use what I need and freeze the rest for later.  Definitely comes in handy (also, same tip is great for freezing pesto too)!

And in case you’re wondering – you can get dried corn husks at some grocery stores that carry Hispanic foods.  If you’re in Chicago, I highly recommend Morse market (just around the corner from the Morse red line stop).  They have a TON of delicious ingredients, incredible prices and lots of random kosher finds too!  It’s definitely a hidden gem!

One little note though – when I folded up the sides of my husks, the dough didn’t quite wrap all the way around creating a nice little tamale package, probably because I didn’t add enough dough on the sides, but that’s okay.  It’s not perfect, things take practice, but as long as it tastes good, it’s good to go in my book.

Buen Provencho!  Enjoy your meal! 

Now…where is that pitcher of margaritas that I ordered?  😀

5 from 1 vote
Spicy Salmon Tamales
Servings: 4 people
Author: Rachel Katzman
Tamale Dough
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened, but not melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp Franks red hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Salmon filling
  • 1 1/2 6 oz. cans wild caught Alaskan salmon
  • 1 3 oz. can fire roasted green chilies
  • 1/2 lime, freshly squeezed, plus more for serving
  • 4 tbsp hot salsa any brand (mild or hot) is fine, or homemade is even better!
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno, sliced be sure to wash your hands after slicing!
  • 10 dried corn husks, soaked
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl and cover with hot (not boiling) water until softened (at least 1 hour)
  1. To make the dough, add all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and using your hands (your best kitchen tools) mix the dough until it come together.  I like having the coconut oil softened because it helps to bind the dough a bit better since there are no eggs.  The hot sauce give the dough the signature tamale color! Place the dough in the fridge to set up while you make the filling.
  2. To make the filling, drain the cans of salmon and add to a bowl.  Mix in the green chilies, lime juice, salsa, salt and pepper (you'll save the jalapenos for assembling).
  3. Remove the corn husks from the bowl, and wipe clean (if it's still a little damp, that's fine). 
  4. Flatten the corn husk on your cutting board, with the narrow side facing closest to you, and using about 1 tbsp.. (depending on the size of your corn husk), smooth the dough in the middle-to-lower section of the husk.  You want it in the middle section, not touching the sides, otherwise it'll leak out of the husk.
  5. Place about 2 tsp. of the filling on top of the dough and place a slice of jalapeno on top. 
  6. Using dampened hands if needed, fold over the sides, like you're folding a package.  The fold up the bottom and top over so the tamale is "sealed". 
  7. Place a steamer basket inside your pressure cooker (I used my instant pot).  Place all of the tamales, seam side toward the outside of the basket in the steamer.  Place about 3 cups of water inside the pot.  Seal the pot and press "manual" for 25 minutes on HIGH pressure.
  8. Use the pressure valve to release the steam, open up the tamales and sprinkle some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice and enjoy!  Careful, they'll be HOT!  These would be great dipped in a little avocado sour cream!

Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s tamale recipe: A Tale of Two Tamales: A Lesson in Leftovers

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