A fresh take on a Peruvian classic, these tasty Tamalitos Verdes feature sweet fresh corn, green cilantro, aji peppers and prawns steamed in fresh corn husks.
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These Green Tamales are called ‘tamalitos verdes’ because fresh husks are used instead of rehydrated dried husks. The fresh cilantro and spinach also add to the ‘green theme’ and flavour of this dish.
Shrimp or Prawns are not a traditional addition to tamalitos verdes. However, the combination of shrimp and sweet corn is delicious and makes this dish truly magical. They also go really well with the spicy Aji Amarillo paste.
Though I have steamed these green tamales in a Dutch oven, you can also use an Instant Pot on ‘steam’ setting to create this Tamalitos verdes recipe.
An Inspirational Peruvian Feast
One dish that I have remembered for almost 21 years from my very first multi-course dinner as a newlywed. One of our groomsmen had so thoughtfully given us a gift certificate for a local Peruvian restaurant and offered to babysit our son for the night.
This wasn’t just any restaurant in the city of Saskatoon, it was ‘Hole in the Wall’ restaurant, located along the surrounding rural backroads. This was back before the days of GPS navigation and Google maps, so we actually needed a paper map!
Surprisingly we made it there on time with few complications and were treated to a feast of foods that were entirely new to us. I can remember the meal like it was yesterday.
For the main course of our dinner we were treated to tequila roasted Cornish game hens, yet another dish I would like to somehow recreate here at home at a later date. Our dessert was a simple bowl of fresh strawberries covered in a sweet minty ‘gremolata’. It was a meal worth remembering
What to Serve with Tamalitos Verdes
A typical Peruvian feast might start with Cheese Stuffed Dates. Next is the very popular potato dish, Papa a la Huancaina. It’s difficult to explain how delicious this one simple potato and cheese dish is. It consists of boiled or steamed potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce. Top it all off with black olives and boiled eggs for authentic Peruvian flavours.
It turns out, Peruvians (especially those in the Andean village of Huancayo) love to cover everything in Huancaina sauce and for very good reason. The combination of spicy Aji Amarillo Peppers (another much loved component of Peruvian cuisine), and Queso Fresco is magical.
Typical Peruvian Ingredients
Potatoes are a staple food in Peru. This tuberous starchy delight is native to South America, though it’s not known what area of the continent it originated from. However, the oldest records of domesticated potatoes are from around 10, 000 years ago.
It would have taken a lot of time, patience, and innovation to cultivate these wild potatoes as they are naturally very toxic. Today, there are over 3800 kinds of potatoes that grow in Peru…I think I’ve found my next travel destination!
Another seasonal ingredient I wanted to incorporate into my Peruvian feast was corn. Though more Meso-American in origin, corn (maize) cultivation in Peru became evident around 6700 years ago. It became one of the four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine along with potatoes, Amaranthaceaes/grains such as quinoa and legumes.
Tips for Making Tamalitos Verdes
Our Alberta grown sweet Taber corn is at it’s peak during late summer it tastes amazing in these Green Tamales. Look for bright green husks that are still very fresh and pliable as they are easier to fold into tight little packages.
Take the time to strain out the sweet corn milk and maybe a bit of quinoa to help the tamales hold their shape (while at the same time incorporating another traditional Peruvian food staple).
How to Make Tamalitos Verdes
To begin, shuck the corn by grabbing each side of the husks and pulling downward along the cob. Make sure to keep at least one husk on the larger side. Wash the cornhusks and set aside. Next, use a sharp knife to cut the corn kernels from the cob into a large bowl.
Process the corn, cilantro and arugula/spinach together briefly in a food processor. Wrap the corn mixture in a clean dish towel and twist tightly to drain the corn milk. Transfer the processed corn mixture to a container.
Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onion, sauté it while stirring so it becomes soft but not too brown. Add the processed yellow pepper and garlic and sauté it for a few more minutes. Add processed corn and mix to combine everything.
Season with salt and pepper and continue to stir the corn mixture with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes.
How to Assemble Tamalitos Verdes
To assemble the tamales, overlap two cornhusks, add 2 Tablespoons of the corn mixture right in the center, top with two prawn halves.
Fold the cornhusks to make the tamales and tie in the center with a piece of string or a strip made from the cornhusk.
Add a layer of cornhusks to the bottom of a large pot. Place the tamales on top. Add 2 cups of water, cover with more cornhusks, cover with lid and bring to a boil.
Steam the tamales for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
If you make this Tamalitos Verdes recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
A huge part of the fun of ATW12P (besides finding out what the next country will be) is reading the posts from the other participating bloggers. Will they make the other recipes that I was looking over…will they go for a full meal or keep it to one simple and tasty dish? To read the other blogger’s ATW12P Pervian experiences, simply click on one of the links below:
Gabby cooks up a Peruvian feast at The Food Girl In Town
Nicoletta and Loreto at Sugar Love Spices with Avocado Cream Cheese Roll on Toast
And welcome to newcomer Evelyne Budkewitsch at Culture Eatz with her Peruvian Quinoa Flan
If you make this Tamalitos Verdes recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or in the ratings. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please share your photos and tag me on Instagram. I hope you like this recipe!
- 6 cobs fresh corn with intact green husks
- 2 cups cilantro leaves
- 1 cup fresh arugula (or spinach)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup Peruvian yellow pepper (Aji amarillo) paste
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 large prawns; cleaned and split in half lengthwise
- Fresh corn husks; as needed
- Shuck the corn by grabbing each side of the husks and pulling downward along the cob. Make sure to keep at least one on the larger side. Set husks aside.
- Cut corn from the cob.
- Blend the corn, cilantro and arugula/spinach. If the corn gives off too much liquid, place in a clean dish towel and twist to drain the corn milk. Transfer the processed corn to a container.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onion, sauté it while stirring so it becomes soft but not too brown. Add the processed yellow pepper and garlic and sauté it for a few more minutes. Add processed corn and mix to combine everything. Season with salt and pepper, stir with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the cornhusks.
- To assemble the tamales, overlap two cornhusks, add 2 Tablespoons of the dough right in the center, top with two prawn halves.
- Fold the cornhusks to make the tamales and tie in the center with a piece of string or a strip made from the cornhusk.
- Add a layer of cornhusks to the bottom of a large pot. Place the tamales on top. Add 2 cups of water, cover with more cornhusks, cover with lid and bring to a boil.
- Steam the tamales for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 5g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.