Photo: Leo Gong
Photo: Leo Gong

America’s fancification of simple peasant food reached another milestone yesterday with the news that Dallas-based retailer Neiman Marcus is now selling gourmet tamales on its website at a pretty astounding price — six dozen for $92, plus $18 for shipping. That’s $110 for 72 tamales. (We’re talking about the same basic foodstuff that costs about $1 a piece at Trader Joe’s.)

This outlandish deal made headlines in outlets ranging from the Dallas Morning News to GQMy San Antonio called it “an outright food foul,” taking this “usually affordable, traditional dish” and tacking on “an outrageous price tag.”

The good news: You don’t have to rely on some highfalutin department store to provide you with delicious handmade tamales. You can hand-make them yourself.

Here are two easy recipes:

The Best Basic Tamales

With this great recipe from Mexican chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda in Brooklyn, you can make a variety of tamales by filling them with the delicious leftovers from your adobo- and mole-making adventures and topping them with whatever salsa you’d like. Tamales also make a great stand-in for rice, potatoes, or other starchy sides when you’re serving a saucy dish. Be sure to get dried masa that’s specifically called tamal flour because it’s a bit coarser than the kind you’d use to make tortillas.

Dios Mio Tamales (Vegetarian)

Dios mio” means “my God” en español, as in “Oh, my God,” which you’ll undoubtedly be exclaiming when you taste these, partially because of the awesome flavor combo and partially because of the heat that sneaks up after a few bites. For a fantastic meal, serve the tamales with Spanish rice, black beans, guacamole and salsa — preferably pico de gallo or salsa verde. For extra zing, serve them with Sriracha-mango guacamole.
Reprinted with permission from The Veggie Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens.