313 - Hot Tamales, Salvadoran style

By Lauren Gosnell

For hundreds of local Salvadorans, the Mi Pueblo is a gathering place to enjoy the simple pleasures of foods from home.

Tucked into the corner of a nondescript North York shopping plaza, the El Salvadoran restaurant offers up some of the best tamales and pupusas in town.

Tamales are dense pockets of steamed corn-flour dough, occasionaly stuffed with fillings like chicken or beans. Although they can be eaten at any meal, owner
Gladys Rumaldo is especially fond of tamales at breakfast with a good cup of coffee.

Back home, the rich flavour is largely attributed to heavy doses of butter blended into the masa corn flour. But here, a heart-healthy margarine replaces butter without ever diminishing the taste.

In the chicken tamale, Gladys layers tender breasts marinated in spices with chopped red peppers, olives, potatoes and a secret sauce onto folds of soft masa dough. The whole pocket is then wrapped in a banana leaf which infuses the ough with an even richer flavour during steaming.

Chicken tamaleUnlike the chicken tamale, the dough in a corn tamale does not take a back seat to a filling. Instead, every opportunity is taken to draw out the essence of corn. Sweet fresh niblets are mixed into the masa and the dough is steamed in corn husks instead of banana leaves.

The best way to enjoy a tamale is to dab a little of the accompanying sour cream and beans on each bite. Gladys points out that the combination changes the taste of a tamale completely.

Mi Pueblo
4 Bradstock Rd. unit #4