I was ready to eat up this Deal of the Day, but after a couple of bites, it was a struggle to finish even one the the two Sweet Corn Tamales by Eco Tropicals.
I've eaten tamales all my life so I know some of the nuance that a well prepared tamale should have. We have a Guatemalen housekeeper (comes in once a month) that has worked for my wife forever. Every year she cooks up delicious chicken, green olive, and raisin filled tamales wrapped in banana leafs, and also makes traditional corn husk wrapped sweet tamales. And L.A. has may touted Latin bakeries that sell them by the dozen (or more.)
Number one, a tamale should not be dry and powdery, but moist and spongy. The Sweet Corn Tamale I tried looked promising when I unwrapped it (after steaming for 10 minutes) -- visually appealing, plump and spongy to the touch. However when I sliced into it with my fork the texture was like sawdust.
And my first taste was off-putting; I expected a moist chopped corn texture, not dry and crumbly. Plus the sweet flavor of cooked corn was lost in a masa (dough) that tasted astringent and slightly metallic. I thought it could come from freezer-burn, but since the tamales are well wrapped in corn husks I think the ingredients were just off.
The tamales are from Ecuador (according to the package.) I had high hopes, thinking if their coffee is renowned then maybe their tamales are too. (I'm sure their tamales are great, just not these packaged ones.) Only four ingredients are listed on the package: sweet corn, sugar, margarine and salt. I think they left out a few things, or maybe the margarine was bad tasting to begin with.
So, on The 99 Cent Chef's rating scale, 9 being best, I give Sweet Corn Tamales by Eco Tropicals a lowly 2.
I visited their website listed on the back of the package (click here,) but found no cooked products listed, only fresh fruit.