Lobster tamales veracruz-style

Lobster tamales veracruz-style

Chris Middleton

Tamales are one of my many fantastic culinary discoveries. They are a deserving staple of South American food and every country on that continent has a unique version. In Mexico they are steamed and adored as a corn snack, often filled with vibrant braised meats and sauces, or enjoyed with chocolate. Most recipes use masa harina or masa harina PAN, both flours made from corn and widely available in Latin food stores. Essentially dumplings, tamales can sometimes be heavy but, by adding a fresh corn purée to the batter, you get a super light and creamy, yet still authentic-tasting, tamale.


Quantity Ingredient
4 corn husks
Zucchini flowers veracruz-style
finely chopped salted ricotta, to garnish
edible flowers, to garnish

Sweetcorn purée

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
175g fresh corn kernels
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
50g unsalted butter
100ml chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
300ml pouring cream

Tamale dough

Quantity Ingredient
150g cold lard
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
150g yellow masa harina flour
150g reserved sweetcorn puree, chilled
200ml chicken stock, warmed


Quantity Ingredient
250g cooked lobster, langoustine or crabmeat
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small handful chives, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon leaves


  1. To prepare the sweetcorn purée, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the corn and garlic, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the butter, chicken stock and salt and cook until the stock has reduced completely. Add the cream and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered for 4 minutes, or until reduced to a thick sauce.
  2. Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate until required.
  3. Soak the corn husks in boiling water for 30 minutes, or until they are pliable.
  4. To prepare the tamale dough, combine the lard, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. Mix on medium for 2 minutes, or until light and aerated.
  5. Changing to a paddle attachment, gradually add the masa harina flour in fine streams, mixing until a stiff dough has formed. Gradually add the chilled sweetcorn purée, mixing until combined. Add the warm stock and mix on medium speed, until incorporated, to resemble a cake batter. Spoon into a piping (icing) bag.
  6. To prepare the filling, chop the lobster or your seafood of choice into small pieces, approximately 1.5 cm dice. Place the seafood, spring onion, chives and tarragon in a small bowl. Add the remaining corn purée and stir to combine.
  7. Drain the corn husks and pat dry with paper towel.
  8. To assemble, trim the corn husks to make 15 cm long rectangles, the width of the husk. Lay the corn husks out on a clean work surface. Pipe the tamale dough onto the husks, making a flat zig zag down the length of the husk. Flatten the dough with the back of a wet spoon to cover the husk in an even layer. Pipe around the border creating a well in the centre for the filling.
  9. Spoon the filling inside and pipe over the top with a little more masa dough. Fold the sides of the corn husk over so they meet and overlap in the middle. Fold the ends of the husks over, securing with a toothpick.
  10. Quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a steamer pot or Chinese steamer basket.
  11. Arrange the tamales in the steamer basket and steam gently for 30 minutes.
  12. Gently reheat the zucchini flowers over low heat.
  13. To serve, place the tamales on serving plates and slice through the corn husk skin to open up and expose the dumplings. Spoon over the zucchini flowers and scatter the salad around the outside. Sprinkle with the salted ricotta and edible flowers.

Paul’s tip

  • You can omit the zucchini flowers Veracruz-style and make double the sweetcorn purée. It is perfect over the tamales too.
Paul Wilson
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