Monday, April 8, 2013

Gong Hay Fat Choy TAMALES !


I know it's TOTALLY LATE, but here's my post on CHINESE TAMALES ! My favorite tamales of them all ! (;

Chinese New Year festivities always starts off with a full day of CHINESE TAMALE MAKING (or "zhong" if you wanna call it like I do in Chinese !) This is definitely one of my favorite things to make all year round. Reason being: This is one of the things my grandmother taught me how to do before she passed away. Whenever I sit in my living wrapping these babies up, I feel like she's standing there watching me, making sure that every knot is tight and every tamale is perfect.

To make sure you're doing this correctly, let's prep out our ingredients ! This recipe is to make anywhere from 20-30 tamales, depending on how large you make yours !

Chinese Tamales
Makes 25 tamales
5 cups
CalRose Rice, rinsed and salted
½ lb.
Dried Mung Beans, cooked in water for 20 minutes
3 lbs.
Pork Belly, cut into 1in. chunks
½ jar
Spicy Fermented Bean Curds
2 tsp.
5 Spice Powder
25 ea.
Bamboo Leaves, boiled for 20 minutes
1 yd.
Butcher’s Twine 

- Lay your bamboo leaves out and let them dry for 30 minutes just so there isn't too much water on them when you start wrapping !

- Make sure your rice is properly seasoned so that your tamales have a good amount of flavor !

- In a large bowl, mix together pork belly chunks, fermented bean curd, and 5 spice powder. Also add some salt and pepper to taste if you like it more flavorful !

- Make sure your mung beans are nice and fluffy and add some salt for flavor !

- Here comes the fun part ! Take 3 bamboo leaves and stack them on top of each other. Using one end of the leaves, form a cone like the one I have above. Hold this tight so that when you add the filling, nothing falls out !

- Fill the bottom of the cone 1/4 of the way with rice. This is the foundation for your tamale and will make sure the correct structure takes place !

- On top of the rice, add 2-3 pieces of meat depending on how meaty you like your tamales ! I like mine MIIIIIIIIGHTY MEATY (;

- On top of the meat, add a spoonful of delicious mung beans ! Please don't be weirded out by the fact that these are mung beans ! These are actually quite delicious and you will definitely wish you added more when you take a bite of your finished tamale ! (;

- On top of your beans, add another little layer of rice. But just enough to cover the beans ! Any more than that and we'll have major rice spillage when we try to close it up !

- From here, you just pinch the front end to make a triangular "nose" out of your tamale. This will help you form the traditional 4 point "Zhong" you see during the holidays !

- Pull the top flap down straight and pinch at the "nose" tightly !

- Now, pull the flap over to the side like shown above ! *SUPER IMPORTANT* Make sure EVERYTHING is tighttighttight the entire time or you're going to have some major rice explosions in your tamale pot !

- Finally, tie your tamale up ! Make sure this is tight as well if you want the tamale to keep it's shape in the cooking process !

- You should end up with a pile of delicious looking Chinese Tamales when you finish ! Just drop these in a giant pot of boiling water to cook for 4 hours and then ENJOY !

I'd really like to take the time now to thank my grandmother for passing these fabulous traditions down to me before she went on to her special place. A little story on her before we part ways today:

She was the almighty chef of the family who brought my passion for cooking to the ultimate level. She was there with me when I got my first cut, ten minutes after slicing into my very first onion. I was only 8 at the time, and while most kids were outside playing on their Little Tyke bikes, I was sitting on the floor of our kitchen, crying because blood was soaking through the white towel that was wrapped tightly around my index finger. I still have the heroic mark of my first battle scar: a half inch upward diagonal that positioned itself right under the first segment line of my left index finger. I look to it every so often, usually after a recipe fails or a souffle deflates, just to remind myself that it's completely okay that the knife may have slipped. I just have to remember to wrap it up and keep going, because in the end, that onion will still need to be sliced, and that meal will still need to be finished. Thank you Grandma Muoi, for my first inspirational kitchen experience and the many more you gave me along the way. It was truly an amazing journey and I'm so glad you took it with me for the first 21 years of my life that you were there for. You will always be missed,

The Little Asian Girl Who Was Blessed With The Most Amazing Family In The World