As a random goal of mine (and probably to see how cheap/frugal I can be just for fun), I’ve been trying to prepare different “Western” dishes using solely ingredients that you can find at the local supermarket. Of course, I’m not counting any kind of fat/oil, simply because I’m sort of paranoid about the quality of oil (blended oil, though cheap, has made me sick in the past here, and I rather pay more for good quality stuff). I attempted yesterday to make baked tamales with some good success here. Recipe below and some modifications I had to make:
-1 pound ground beef (you can’t really do proper ground beef at your local grocery store, so go to a “foreign” one or just cut up some flank steak because the bigger establishments usually carry this)
-1/2 to 1 14oz can tomatoes (you should be able to find it at a Chinese Wal-Mart, but it can be difficult. I had one in my pantry, so I kind of cheated on this one)
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1 teaspoon cumin (you can get seeds or ground cumin, I opted for ground cumin, but I think either is fine)
-1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (it’s easier to get a stick at the local market and just grind it in a blender or grater)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 to 1 cup onions (as a optional you can add jalapeno peppers or other veggies, for the sake of this experiment I left the jalapenos out)
Corn Meal dough:
-2 cup corn meal/ corn flour (I used corn flour, or there is medium grind cornmeal which in English translates to “grind corn” or the equivalent to that)
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 cup water
-1 egg, well beaten
-2 tablespoon butter (bought this at a foreign market because I like it unsalted, but you can totally buy this at a Chinese market near the bakery section)
-Saute beef until brown. Add tomatoes, onions and spices and cook for another 15 min.
-Make corn meal dough. Bring water to boil and add corn meal/ corn flour over medium heat and cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Add eggs and butter. Stir well.
-Grease a baking dish and line bottom with half the corn meal dough. Add meat mixture and cover with remaining corn meal dough. Bake 20 minutes at 325F, or until browned.
The issue I had was with the toaster oven I used. I was a bit paranoid about the corn flour mixture, but the only difference I will say is that the texture is different. So it really depends on that what you want to use (next time I’m going to use the corn meal I saw, and see what happens). Secondly, unless you have a proper confection oven, you can’t follow the directions to bake it exactly. We end up waiting about 40 minutes for this thing because I forgot about this. I ended up cranking up the toaster oven halfway through and checked it every 5 minutes to see if it was ready or not. We made a pumpkin pie last year and had to do the same thing. It does taste wonderful, but unless you’re cooking plain meat/veggies, it’s best to watch your dishes like a hawk and experiment with temperatures/times until you get it right. The corn dough was a bit undercooked, but I know next time to adjust the temperature. It tasted pretty good nonetheless and I’d probably attempt to make it again.