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Mar 9, 2011 03:29 PM

Tamale Making Items...

I will be visiting in May and my brother has come up with the ingenious idea that I have to teach him how to make tamales (apparently they are his most favorite thing!). I have done a couple of searches and found this post from January regarding masa. I was wondering if any one has any new information regarding purchasing tasty already-prepared masa or would like to weigh in with additional information.
I will be needing to purchase additional items as well as masa. Are dried chiles, corn husks, mexican cheese, etc. readily available? Would I be able to get everything in one place or is it best to go to different places for different items (i.e. Midtown Global Market, El Burrito Mercado)? I am trying to determine what I will need to purchase at home (Los Angeles) and bring with me and what I can purchase there. Obviously, I would like to bring the least amount of items as I will be travelling by air.
I saw someone post that Rainbow on E Lake in the Midtown area has a good Latino section.
Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated. Willing to drive anywhere (will also be heading north to Hayward, Wisconsin also). THANK YOU!!

Midtown Global Market
920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

El Burrito Mercado
175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

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  1. What a nice sister you are! I've never made tamales from scratch, but my guess is that the corn husks would be the hardest to find here. El Burrito Mercado (the biggest local grocery) will have dried chiles and some (commercial) Mexican cheese. They might also sell masa - if not, other places will. You could always give 'em a call and ask what they have and what they don't.


    El Burrito Mercado
    175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

    1. Rainbow on E Lake does have a good Lation section, but the Cub across the street has an even better one. I'm pretty sure I've seen corn husks there as well as masa, mexican cheeses of many different varieties and lots of different kinds of dried chiles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KC612

        These items (masa, chilis and husks) are also available at the Rainbow and the Cub in Midway, on University and Snelling.

        Snelling Cafe
        638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

      2. EBM has everything you need. Usually 2 or 3 choices for everything you need.

        Also the place across the sreet from EBM sells tamale pots in a whole bunch of sizes. I just got a pot that will make 60 tamales in one batch.

        1. Perfect!! Thank you all SO MUCH! You can come to Hayward if you want to make them with us. ;-) It is fun with a lot of people.
          I completely forgot to ask about pots. Thank you for bringing them up, Michael (nice catch, BTW). How much was your pot? Just curious. I need to get one. Sadly, my brother's kitchen is sorely lacking in everything. I seriously wish I could take my kitchen with me when I visit - would make life easier (and cheaper!). He sold his Kitchen Aid (who does that??!!) or I would make the masa myself.
          I was reading one of the posts about people complaining about the difference in quality between the markets of where they used to live prior to moving to those in the Twin Cities. I love the markets in the midwest. It is true, it seems that food is more expensive there - even things like dairy and such that I think should be cheaper with all the local farms. The meat is phenomenal - so gorgeous! They seemed to complain that Cub is dirty, but I have been to the one in Duluth and it has an amazing array of items and seems very clean.

          2 Replies
          1. re: WildSwede

            I think the pot was about $45. They had different styles and sizes. I got a basic sturdy no-frills aluminum model.

            We make excellent masa with only a big bowl, a wooden spoon, and our hands. I've never used a food processor. This recipe is outstanding for all the elements of tamales:


            Yes, we have the best meat here in the Midwest. The stuff at the STP farmers market in the summer is insanely good.

            Typically local producers are more, not less, expensive. But the quality is much higher.

            Good luck!

            1. re: Michael Florey

              That recipe looks good. Nothing is worse to me than unseasoned, bland masa. Bleech! And then you have those tamales that have filling that you need a microscope to see! I think I will try it and I will make my brother mix it! ;-)
              Thank you again!! I truly appreciate it!

          2. A quick follow up on our tamale making adventure. First, I would like to thank all of you for your great advice. We ended up heading toward EBM, but they were closed when we got there (spent a little too much time in St Paul at the Festival of Nations - have you ever been? It is AMAZING!). The smaller market acoss the street was still open (they were busy cleaning up the street and tearing down stages from their 5 de Mayo celebration). They had everything we needed. So, this can be another resource for Mexican items. I even got fresh lard from their meat section. Prices were very reasonable compared to what I saw "up north". I got tomatillos there for 99 cents/lb. Other places had them at $2.99/lb. I asked advice from a couple of the latina shoppers (and a young teenager) who seemed very impressed that we were going to tackle tamales. Their help and advice was invaluable.

            I got 3 bags of the dried masa, huge bag of Guajillo chiles, 2 lbs of tomatillos, 4 packs of corn husks (found out really quick we only needed 2 of them), and a few other odds and ends. Cost came to a little over $50. Made 5 types and they were all excellent. Masa came together very easily without the mixer, Michael! I saved the broth that I cooked the pork in and the chile soaking liquid and added that to the masa which made it more flavorful. We also created our own sweet version which the women prefered much more than the men. Pork with red chile sauce and chicken with green sauce. Chiles with cheese and corn. Nopales with cheese. We found out you have to use monterrey jack - mozzarella gets too chewy but the colby jack was okay. It was a lot and my brother was (is) in heaven!

            Thank you all again for your help! Best, L

            2 Replies
            1. re: WildSwede

              When you're not here to make tamales for your bro, he can get pretty good frozen from Las Loma in Midtown Global. Just steam and eat.