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How to make Salsa Verde for Vegetarian Tamales!

A good tamal demands a good salsa. It does the hard work of introducing the stuffy and boring masa with the wild and crazy fillings that just don't care about nothing! If it does its job right, it will meld the flavors appropriately so that your tamal ingredients become one with their tamal-ness. Without the sauce you just have some ingredients encased in a corn prison.

A salsa verde is essential for your Tamal de queso con rajas, aka cheese and chile tamal. We start with a good amount of tomatillos, take off the husk and try to rinse off the stickiness.

Once you've cleaned your tomatillos, chop up a large onion into quarters, and clean some serrano chiles, which will add a nice piquant quality to your sauce.

Put 'em all in a big pot with water and bring to a boil. Oh yeah, add lots of garlic. You'll only need to cook this for around 5-10 minutes, the tomatillos will soften and be ready for blending.

Look at how the color of the tomatillos has changed, and some are opening up and breaking down! Yikes, just a tad overcooked! But its okay, it'll all be fine. Its just better if they don't get to that point. So you should pay more attention than I was.

Blend it up in batches, or all together if you can. Add some fresh cilantro to the blender as well, its a good herb!

Once you've done that heat up a deep enough pan or pot, add a bit of oil and give it a few seconds to heat up, then pour the blended salsa verde in. You will learn to love that hissing and splattering of the oil and liquid. Let it come to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Add some salt, maybe a bouillon cube or some veggie stock. Flavor it up! It's gotta be savory and satisfying. Cook it down until the flavors enhance and the sauce thickens a bit, or until your guests arrive and you just have to make do.

One tip that I recently read about (but haven't tried) is to add some masa to the salsa, to thicken the sauce and make it easier to manage inside a tamal. Its quite a good idea since so much salsa gets wasted just squirming out of the tamal as you wrap it. It sounds reasonable enough so I'll try it next time.

A shopping list of sorts for the above:
1 head of garlic
2 1/2 lbs tomatillos, or thereabouts
6-8 chiles serranos, or whatever you can get
1 white onion
1 bunch cilantro
Salt, vegetarian stock cubes, other spices, a sense of what you like.

Cooking with EL CHAVO!

How to make Salsa Roja for Vegetarian Tamales

Yes, I'll submit a red sauce too. Just give me some time porfas.

Coming up next, getting your fillings ready!

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