Shrimp and Corn Tamales with Roasted Poblano Crema

July 28, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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.

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)
In This Recipe



  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. 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).

More Great Recipes:
Mexican|Cilantro|Corn|Cumin|Honey|Milk/Cream|Poblano|Seafood|Shrimp|Masa|Make Ahead|Serves a Crowd

Reviews (21) Questions (1)

21 Reviews

KarenOCook August 15, 2011
This is a delicious dish that is filling and flavorful. It's a special twist on Mexican food made more upscale with the interesting flavors.
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 11, 2011
Thank you food fanatic for your notes and testing my recipe. Sorry that it included a grocery scavenger hunt as well as a day in the kitchen...but I'm glad you enjoyed making them with your daughter...our daughter is off to college and I miss cooking with her! She definitely has benefitted from her hours in the kitchen with me and is quite the college cook!
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 11, 2011
Ps..our walmart carries the husks in their aisle with Hispanic foods and carries the masa flour!
garlic&lemon August 4, 2011
I am missing something here. I read it 3 times but could be my dyslexia... How much shrimp? How big? Whole or chopped?
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 4, 2011
I am so sorry! Posted this recipe with extreme jet lag--I can't edit after submission deadline...but you should plan on 4-5 large shrimp or 3 jumbo shrimp per person for an entree size, 3 med. shrimp per person for an appetizer portion. Personally, I prefer a larger shrimp and find 3 is satisfying. In step 3 --peeled and devined, should also say "WHOLE". sorry for the confusion!
hardlikearmour August 4, 2011
Lori, now that's it's released from the contest you can edit it. The only recipes you'll never be able to edit are the ones that win or are runner-ups.
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 4, 2011
thanks Sarah! I need a good night's sleep...just finished a week of catering for hungry horse riders...I will look at that tomorrow with my "English teacher eyes"!
cookinginvictoria August 3, 2011
Wow, I love tamales, and with the addition of corn and shrimp, these sound beyond delicious. I also like the touch of tequila in the poblano crema sauce! And your photo is gorgeous, Lori!
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 4, 2011
Thank you CIV!! I'm doing most things with my android phone--its a better camera than my old digital. I've learned alot from watching others on this site, natural light is your friend. I tried to take a photo a few hours later that evening of the final product but the light was too diffuse and it looked "fuzzy". I never seem to have enough money to buy a new camera, because I'm already spent it on a new kitchen toy, cooking tour, or just from wandering in the markets!!
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Yum...these sound delicious. I can't wait to try these.
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 1, 2011
Thanks Jenny! Thought of u yesterday when I was scouring the asian markets...I'm out of pickled lotus root. All I can find is the soft slices...I need the crunch of the lotus to offset the soft of the butternut, any ideas?
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 1, 2011
Oops sorry ginggeroot...meant to send that just to you...hopefully won't confuse's for my two wrongs salad recipe.
wssmom July 31, 2011
The roasted poblano crema sauce sounds DIVINE. I see some tamales in my near future ...
Author Comment
lorigoldsby July 31, 2011
Thanks wssmom!! It is a nice balance to the sweetness of the fresh corn. Let me know if u try it, trying to decide if I should enter this in the corn contest as well?
wssmom August 1, 2011
Oh, yes !
Author Comment
lorigoldsby July 29, 2011
Forgot to add a step...after 1 hr when removing the peppers, onions and garlic, increase the temperature to 425 for the last 30 minutes ( can take up to 2 hours). Sorry!
Author Comment
lorigoldsby August 1, 2011
Also, shoylnt submit when jet lagged! Aargesi's recipe for summer corn pudding reminded me that I did not specify that you should "milk the cob". Take the knife blade down the cob to remove the milky goodness.
hardlikearmour July 28, 2011
Love tamales, and your version sounds ultra-good.
Author Comment
lorigoldsby July 28, 2011
thanks HLA!
Sagegreen July 28, 2011
Yum. I love tamale recipes and never tried one with shrimp. Sounds great!
Author Comment
lorigoldsby July 28, 2011
you can substitute chicken, which we do for our daughter, but the shrimp really benefits from the creamy sauce and masa mix!