Tamales are a delicious and popular dish in many Latin American countries, and are enjoyed by people all over the world. These small packets of steamed masa (corn dough) filled with savory or sweet fillings are wrapped in corn husks and served with a variety of toppings, such as salsa, sour cream, or cheese.
However, one of the most common problems that people encounter when making tamales is that they can sometimes turn out dry. This can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time and effort preparing the dish.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why tamales can get dry and what you can do to prevent it. From the type of masa you use to the filling and cooking method, there are several factors that can contribute to dry tamales. By understanding these factors and taking steps to address them, you can ensure that your tamales are always moist, flavorful, and satisfying.
So let’s dive in and learn how to make the perfect batch of tamales every time!
Why Are My Tamales Dry?
Too Much Water In The Pot
One of the biggest mistakes in cooking tamales is that people steam the tamales with too much water. They usually think that the more water, the more environment for the tamales to boil.
When you start boiling the water, the uncooked tamales will fall to the bottom of the pot. Then, when it comes to a boil, the water will evaporate, accidentally draining the lard.
However, the lard is the moist and fat supplement to the tamales, so if the lard is drained, the sweet tamales are also influenced. Tamales can be crumbly and dry.
As a result, we suggest you use enough water to steam. According to our experience, only an inch and a half is fine.
Not Cool Down The Stocks Before Cooking With Tamales
Another point about boiling the stocks that we want to remind you: it is necessary to cool down the stocks before cooking. In other words, you should use cool water for the boiling process.
Why should we use cold water instead of warm water? There are two reasons for that. First, if you put the stocks into hot water, the heat will make the meat suddenly burn at the exterior, but not the inside. Hence, there will be a strong stinky smell from the stocks.
Second, if the stocks meet a sudden temperature rise, its structure will be broken, and either the fat components.
Given these facts, you should put the stocks into cold water or “cool down the stocks” to avoid breaking the stocks’ fat composition. By retaining these fats, the tamales dish will be fatty, juicy, and sweet as expected.
Not Mix Enough Stocks
Stocks are super essential to make a good sweet tamales dish, which partially explains why most expert chefs advise to boil the tamales in stocks.
Originally, the typical tamales dough contained masa, stock, lard, oil, and spices. The stock is considered as top important because the stock is the fat supplement to tamales dough.
To be specific, stocks are made from animal meat, so the amount of fat contained in the stocks is extremely significant.
When boiling tamales, the fat in stocks will slowly meltdown, gluing all dough ingredients like masa, spice, vegetable, and lard altogether. If the tamales dough doesn’t have enough stocks, then that tamales lack glue, a “bonding” supplement.
Lack Of Masa
Masa is essential to sweet tamales recipes. In other words, masa dough and tamales are an indispensable duo in cooking.
To be specific, the masa is a special ingredient that could “suck” fat and water. Hence, when cooking masa dough with tamales, the mixture is juicy, fatty, and sweet. While the tamales are starchy and chewy, the masa is fatty. Such a combination makes a great soup flavor.
Thus, if you don’t cook tamales with masa dough, the dish is quite sandy and dry because it lacks the fatty and corn-husks-alike sweet taste.
How Do You Fix Dried Tamales?
Reheat In An Oven
The first technique to fix the food is to reheat tamales in an oven. This method is quite similar to steaming because the mechanism behind it is quite the same.
Here is how to reheat: first, turn on the oven and preheat it to exactly 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat each tamale with aluminum foil to ensure that the homemade tamales are airtight.
When the oven reaches the desired temperature, put the aluminum-foil-covered tamales in the oven to reheat. Wait for 20 minutes, then take out the food. Flip the tamales over and put them into the oven again for 10 minutes more in medium heat.
Reheat In An Instant Pot
Another method to reheat tamales is to use the instant pot. The instant pot, or pressure cooker, is a good equipment to reheat the tamales because it can quickly reach the boiling temperature, not dehydrate the food.
Like the above method, you have to pour warm water into the pot, put the default filter to cover the water and start warming up the instant pot first. When the cooker is heated too high, add tamales to the filter, and close the pot’s lid.
Consequently, let the instant pot sit out for 10 minutes, and the tamales are ready to serve.
We have some tips on reheating the food in a pressure cooker for you. First, please put the tamales spaced apart, so each tamale has enough space to warm up thoroughly. Second, the tamales can sit out for up to 30 minutes after steaming.
Reheat In A Microwave
If you are looking at a reheating technique with less preparation, reheating in a microwave may be suitable. Compared to other methods, this is the easiest and the most convenient, affordable, and way to reheat the tamales. You can use a microwave to warm up and cook anything.
Here is how to reheat the tamales in the microwave:
The first stage is to choose a microwave-safe bowl to place the food. This step is also important because some kinds of plates will immediately explode when being in the microwave. So, please be careful.
Consequently, wrap the crumbly tamales with a big, wet paper towel. Just imagine, when putting the damp towel in a hot environment, there will be steam emitted from it. Hence, if covering the tamales with that towel, you can push the food into the steaming mode.
After wrapping the tamales and putting them into the microwave, turn on the machine and set the time to one minute. Then, please take out the tamales and flip them. Repeat the above process to warm up the tamales thoroughly.