Shrimp and Corn Tamales with Roasted Poblano Crema

By • July 28, 2011 23 Comments

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Author Notes: This was inspired by a Mesa Grill cookbook. I have veered off so much from Bobby Flay's recipe, that they really aren't the same, but his cookbook gave me the confidence to try to make my own tamales, and even people who don't "like" tamales, like this recipe. If you have a friend or two who will help you, put them to work making the tamale bundles. - lorigoldsby

The sauce is where Bobby and I really parted ways...His is an excellent roasted garlic sauce, but our family likes a little heat with the tamale...sorry Bobby!

Food52 Review: While enthusiastically volunteering to test this recipe, I must admit I didn't read the recipe in its entirety when doing so. I had no idea of the time involved (or how many supermarkets I would have to go to find corn husks—and in Los Angeles!). So I enlisted the help of my unsuspecting teenage daughter, tearing her away from her beloved electronic equipment. The flavor of the actual tamales was very tasty with it's subtle hint of honey and cumin and the shrimp and crema were a delicious combination of spicy and creamy. We had a fun and hilarious afternoon assembling the tamales (a very rare occurrence in the world of teenage parenting), and would highly recommend this recipe and project for a weekend.foodfanatic

Serves 8 - 10


  • 24-30 dried corn husks
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (can substitute frozen in winter)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup corn masa mix (harina de maiz)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro pulp (leftover when making cilantro oil)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Jumbo or 5-6 large shrimps per person, shelled and deveined but whole.
  1. to make cilantro oil: pulse 1 bunch of cilantro and 1 c. canola oil in blender w/ a pinch of salt. Use a fine mesh seive to strain all flavor thru. After use, store any extra oil in refrigerator. Reserve solids to use in tamale mixture.
  2. 2 hours prior to making the tamales, wash & soak the husks in warm water.
  3. Puree the corn, onion, butter, and 1/2 of the water in a food processor, add in the masa, cumin, salt & pepper and honey and then pulse to add the water a little at a time. Mixture should be a little "loose" but you can add more water/masa as your humidity levels dictate. See step 7 with directions for milking the cob.
  4. i used my salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture. Pat dry the 20 best corn husks, tear "bad" husks into tying strips.
  5. Lay husks overlapping with "fat" ends in the middle, tapered ends at the 3 and 9 position. Spoon into middle, fold husk around and tuck ends to middle. Use strips to tie into neat bundles.
  6. In a deep baking dish, place 2-3 cups of warm water, place metal cooling rack on top of pan, so rack does not touch the water. cover rack with foil, overlapping so foil will come up and cover the tamales. Pinch foil to seal. Bake at 375 for 90 minutes, checking until firm. Depending on your oven temp/ dryness of your masa, this can take up to 2 hours. If you prefer a super dry/solid tamale, let it go for 2 hours, 15 minutes.
  7. When removing the corn from the cob, use the back of a knife,"milk" the cob by dragging the knife blade down the cob. You have fresh corn if you get a milky white liquid.

Roasted Poblano Crema Sauce

  • 1 large poblano, seeded
  • 1 white onion, cubed
  • 1/2 head of garlic, top cut off
  • oil, salt 7 pepper
  • 1 pint half and half (I used fat free)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup tequilla
  • spice mix 1 t. @ of chili powder, cumin, white pepper, thyme or mexican oregano, and kosher salt.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • chili oil (optional)
  1. roast poblano, onion & garlic in a little oil, salt & pepper for 1 hour while tamales steam.
  2. remove roasted garlic from the skin, discard skins. Puree pepper, onion & garlic in blender. Add 1 c. half and half, 1 c. heavy cream and 1 T. flour, process til smooth.
  3. Pat dry shelled and deveined shrimp (you don't want them to steam!). Season with spice mix on both sides. When tamales are completely cooked....Warm up skillet until it is screaming hot. Drop shrimp down onto skillet. Allow to brown on one side (approx. 2 minutes), then flip and brown on the other side. Remove shrimp to keep from over cooking.
  4. Add butter and tequilla to pan to deglaze. If you are looking to put on a is your moment to flambe! but add butter AFTER flame is extinguished! Add corn to lightly toast (in the winter I use Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn), add the poblano cream sauce to warm through and the shrimps.
  5. to plate, pop open the ends of 2-3 tamales, spoon a small pond of the shrimp/corn/poblano cream sauce in the middle and add shrimp, garnish with a few drops of the cilantro oil and chili oil (optional).

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