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Celebrity Chefs Recipes: Holiday Tamales by Dominica Rice-Cisneros

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Tamale variations and the ingredients that make them (Vic Chin / KQED)

It’s important to make tamales all year round, but these are the backbone of my family’s holiday diet. It’s all about the tamales for the whole month of December!

Without the masa, you don’t have tamales. You can buy masa preparada para tamales (fresh corn masa) from your favorite Molino such as la Finca in Oakland, and you can just grab corn husks from your local bodega. I’m showing you how to make pork and black bean tamales today, but you can use whatever filling you’d like.

To cook your tamales, just steam them — I use a dim sum steamer from Chinatown.

Holiday Tamales

Makes approximately 24 tamales

Pork Tamales


  • 1 pound masa preparada para tamales
  • 1 8 oz. can of pitted, whole black mission olives (discard juice)
  • 1 8 oz. can of sliced, pickled jalapenos (discard juice)
  • Pork roast with guajillo chile salsa (or other cooked pork)
  • Two bags of corn husks soaked in hot water for an hour


  1. Place corn husk on board and spread 3 tablespoons of fresh masa into 3-inch wide disk.
  2. Top with spoon full cooked pork, olive and jalapeno.
  3. Fold corn husk over to make a neat package, tying with a thin strip of husk if desired. Repeat.
  4. Steam for 2 hours.

Black Bean Tamales


  • 2 pounds masa preparada para tamales
  • 3 cups refried black beans
  • ½ cup Queso fresco
  • Epazote leaves
  • Frozen banana leaves cut, washed and toasted
  • Parchment paper


  1. Place banana leave on square of clean parchment paper. Spread 3 tablespoons of fresh masa into 4-inch wide disk.
  2. Top with spoon full black beans, wedge of cheese and sprig of epazote or cilantro.
  3. Fold banana leaves over to make a neat square package. Wrap with parchment. Repeat.
  4. Steam for 2 hours. Top with favorite mole.
Chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros with a plate of finished tamales
Chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros with a plate of finished tamales  (Vic Chin / KQED)



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