How to Steam Tamales without a Steamer?

Tamale is a traditional Mexican dish. It is made up of dough or masa which is steamed in banana leaf or corn husk. The wrapping of the tamale is discarded just before eating or can be used as a plate. Like any other traditional dish, it is a must to cook your tamale properly. Steaming your tamales can be a tough task as you have to avoid overcooking and undercooking both. If you are a traveler or a food blogger, you must know the need for accuracy in steaming the tamales. It is the main cooking process of your yummy dish that is responsible for the entire flavor of your tamale.

Steaming your tamales is easy when you have the steamer in your place. Whatever choice of tamales, you go for; you have to avoid its direct contact in water. Hence, the alternatives to steamer need to be accurate and easy as well. Let us have a look at the possible methods to steam your favorite tamales without a steamer.

  • Using a metal strainer: The metal strainer can be considered as the best alternative for steaming when you do not have a working steamer at your place. The metal strainer can be fixed on any of the bigger utensils. You can go for a mesh strainer as well. All you need to do is boil the water and put the strainer over your water utensil. You have to put the tamales in the strainer. For better absorption of heat, you can cover the lid of the utensil. It may take a few minutes longer than the normal time for steaming your tamales in a metal or mesh strainer. An occasional check is all you need while using a metal or mesh strainer.
  • Using an oven: The oven can be used in steaming your tamales. All you need is a Dutch oven and a casserole dish with a fitting lid. First of all, you have to ensure the temperature of your oven at the lowest. This makes sure that you have adequate water for providing steam to your tamales.Clean your Dutch oven and place the steam rack in it. In case you do not have a Dutch oven, a large casserole dish will do the same. Place the tamales on the steam rack of your oven or dish. Make sure that the folded end of the tamales is facing downwards. Put the boiling water into your Dutch oven or casserole dish and then place a lid.

    Put this assembly in your oven and leave it for a minimum of 40 minutes. Make sure that you do not raise the temperature to maintain adequate water levels. Thus, your tamales are cooked with the heat of the oven that makes steam out of the boiling water. Once steamed to perfection, carefully remove the Dutch oven or casserole dish and remove your tamales.

  • Using aluminum foil: The aluminum foil works as an easy alternative to your steamer. All you need to do is roll out three to four balls out of the aluminum foil and make them triangular. You will be placing these aluminum triangular balls in a large-sized container. Place a heat-resistant material like a ceramic or glass plate at the top of the aluminum balls. Put water in the pot so that the plate is at least one inch higher than the water level. Close the lid and bring the water to boil. Place your tamales on the plate and it will take an hour to cook your tamales
  • Using bowl and chopsticks: The simplest form of making a steamer is using a large bowl and small bowl combination. Place hot water in the large bowl and put it on heat. Cover using the small bowl. At the bottom of your bowl, place 3 to 4 chopsticks and put your tamales over these chopsticks.


Leave a Comment