These elegant tamales with their contemporary spin epitomize John Rivera Sedlar’s modern Southwest cuisine and pay homage to his New Mexico heritage. The flowers were inspired by the work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived in Sedlar’s hometown of Abiquiu, and infuse the tamales with some of the fragrance. Edible flowers are available in many grocery stores.
- Tamale Dough
- 1/2 pound fresh masa, or 3/4 cup masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken stock, at room temperature
- Salmon Mousse
- 1 pound fresh salmon, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1-1/3 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg white
- Assorted fresh herbs and pesticide-free edible flowers (chives, chervil, basil, sage, thyme, nasturtiums, pansies, violets, rose petals)
- 16 dried corn husks, soaked
For the tamale dough: Bring the masa and vegetable shortening to room temperature. Place masa, shortening, salt, baking powder, and pepper into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the ingredients for 5 minutes on low to medium speed, occasionally cleaning the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing while slowly drizzling the chicken stock into the bowl for another 3 to 4 minutes. The masa should not be too wet.
For the salmon mousse: Place the salmon, cream, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Purée for 1 minute, stopping a few times to scrape the bowl. Add the egg and egg white and process 1 more minute to make a firm, dense mousse mixture. The mixture should be free of any ligaments or fat; if any are visible, press the mixture through a fine sieve with a rubber spatula.
Assembly: For each tamale, place a 6 x 12-inch sheet of plastic wrap on the work surface. Spread a very thin layer of tamale dough in a 1 1/2 x 3-inch rectangle in the center of the plastic wrap. Mound about a cup of mousse on top of the masa. Place a bouquet of assorted herbs and flower petals to simulate a floral arrangement on top of the mousse. Remove 8 husks from the water, clean, and pat dry. Cut a 1 1/2 x 3-inch rectangle from each of the 8 corn husks and place on top of the flower/mousse layer. Bring the plastic wrap up and around the husk to seal the tamale in a neat package.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Place a steaming rack on top of the boiling water and the tamales, husk side down, on the rack. Cover and steam until firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. While the tamales are steaming, remove the 8 remaining husks from the water, clean, and pat dry, and tear a 1/4-inch strip from the edge of each one. Tie one end of each husk with the strip to make a boatlike shape.
Place a corn husk on each of 8 plates. Unwrap the plastic wrap from each tamale. Lift the corn husk off the salmon mousse. Carefully place a tamale into each husk boat, floral side up.