Oh my GOODness I love these tamales. I had so much fun making these Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales, and even more fun eating them. The secret is definitely in the sauce. I love working with dried chiles and exploring different flavor combinations, so this recipe is right up my alley. Dora’s red chile sauce is comprised of mainly guajillo chiles with a couple of chiles de arbol for extra heat. Guajillos are usually mild, with a tangy, almost fruity taste. They almost have a tomato-y taste. Chiles de arbol are pretty dang hot and a just a couple of them will go a long way. This red chile sauce is not only super vibrant in color, but also in flavor. I saved some to add to the top of my tamales because it’s just that good. The heat is not overtly spicy, but more of a back-of-the-throat mild heat, which is perfect for cold winter days. If you haven’t worked with dry chiles before, don’t be afraid, it couldn’t be easier. The sauce has minimal ingredients and it all comes together in a blender.
Lovely young green jackfruit replaces the meat in this tamale filling, you can order cans on Amazon if you can’t find jackfruit in your local asian market. Make sure you’re getting green jackfruit in brine and not syrup!
I served my Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales for dinner the other night with a side of fresh greens and some black beans. And as I write this, I’m pondering breaking into my leftovers stash for another tamale dinner tonight!
Print Recipe Vegan tamales… unwrapped! Yum
To prepare the corn husks: Soak the corn husks in hot water in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
To make the sauce: Place the chiles in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and let cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles and reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid. Place the chiles, garlic, onion, and soaking liquid in the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and strain. You should end up with about 3 cups of sauce.
To make the filling: Drain the jackfruit. Rinse and pat with paper towels. Cut out the core of the jackfruit (tip of the triangle pieces) and cut pieces in half. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan set to medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the jackfruit and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Pour 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile sauce and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for 20 minutes or until jackfruit begins to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Use a fork to shred the jackfruit as it cooks down. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
To make the dough: Beat the coconut oil on medium-high speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the baking powder, cumin and salt. Beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the coconut oil.
Add half of the masa harina to the bowl. Pour in half of the vegetable stock. Beat to incorporate. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina and vegetable stock and add 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile puree. Beat at low speed until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary, add more vegetable stock until you reach that consistency. Taste the dough and add more salt if necessary. It should be a little bit salty.
For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and beat it again, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
To set up your steamer: Fill the bottom with water, making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
To wrap the tamales: Pull 24 pencil-thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3-inch to 4-inch square. Leave a border of at least ¾ inch on each side of the square.
Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together. This will cause the masa to surround the filling. Roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty, tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
Place the tamal in the steamer vertically, leaning against the side of the pot, with the open end on top.
Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales. When they separate easily from the corn husks, it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.