Tamales: Fresh vs. Canned FOOD REVIEW

Fresh Tamales

I recently had tamales de pollo at Jarochita #2 Mexican Grill, an authentic Mexican joint in NoVa. At $2.50 per tamale, they were quite filling. They were served steaming hot in corn husks that were easy to remove. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, but this is basically what they looked like:

Image courtesy of Mely Martínez at Taste. The ones at Jarochita #2 are a bit bigger.

The shredded chicken inside was a little dry, but I didn’t mind. The real star of the show was the steamed masa, which had a wonderful texture. It was quite soft, so my fork dug into it easily. You know what it reminded me of? Bánh chưng, a Vietnamese rice cake I ate in my childhood. The tamales came with two complementary sauces, salsa verde and salsa roja … I think. They were green and red, respectively, and moderately spicy.

The restaurant was conjoined with a Mexican grocery, where I got a Mexican soda called Sangría Señorial for about $1.50. It tasted like a decent cola. Along with the two tamales, I spent $7 in total for a great meal.

Tamales de pollo: 9/10

Sangría Señorial: 8/10

Canned Tamales

Unsurprisingly, the picture does not match what you actually get.

Hormel Beef Tamales in Chili Sauce were actually the first tamales I ever had. When I opened the can, they were wrapped in wax paper, so I had to get my hands a little dirty to remove them. Compared to the fresh ones, they didn’t look particularly appetizing. I generally like canned food, but these tamales were just sad in retrospect.

Image courtesy of Hungry Harps.

The texture of the masa was oddly gelatinous and the beef was strangely grainy. As for the chili sauce, it was runny and mostly bland. There wasn’t much flavor to speak of in any of these components. If I had to eat these tamales again, I’d probably nuke them and add hot sauce. Overall, my hunger was sated, but I was disappointed.

Hormel Beef Tamales in Chili Sauce: 5/10

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