Tamales de Queso (Cheese Tamales) From Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen


These tamales, from Martin Morales's cookbook, Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen, are much different from their Mexican brethren. Instead of using a dough made from masa and lard, they're made with pureed fresh corn, cooked down with butter, garlic, chili paste, and a touch of sugar. The corn paste gains structure and color from a couple of egg yolks and is then filled and steamed. Morales's tamales are still fairly light and fresh, despite the addition of the rich ingredients. A side of bright, spicy salsa criolla adds zip and crunch—don't skip it.

Why I picked this recipe: I've never made tamales using fresh corn.

What worked: I couldn't get enough of the super corn-y tamale dough.

What didn't: I had a hard time getting the corn totally smooth in my food processor. I'd definitely use a blender next time. If you're using fresh corn husks, you will probably end up needing to make smaller tamales.

Suggested tweaks: You'll have an easier time cooking the corn if you use a nonstick skillet. Morales suggests using this dough recipe for all kinds of tamale fillings, so be creative! I think it will work best with simple fillings, like this cheese one, to allow the corn flavor to shine.

Reprinted with permission from Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen: Authentic Recipes for Lomo Saltado, Antichuchos, Tiraditos, Alfajores, and Pisco Cocktails by Martin Morales. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Makes: 4 tamales

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  • Dough
  • 2 ripe ears choclo or other corn
  • Scant 1/4 cup (50 g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon Amarillo Chili Paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Tamales
  • 4 pieces banana leaf, each about 8 by 10 inches (20 by 25 cm), 4 fresh corn husks, or 4 dried corn husks soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese or queso fresco
  • Julienned Salsa Criolla
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cored and seeded medium tomatoes
  • 2 seeded and deveined rocoto chilies (or mix of bell pepper and habanero chilies)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped cilantro sprigs
  • Salt and pepper


  1. First, make the dough. Cut the choclo or other corn kernels from the cob. Put them in a food processor or blender and add a couple tablespoons water. Blitz until smooth.

  2. Melt the butter in a shallow, wide saucepan set over medium heat. Add the chili paste and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the blended choclo, season with the salt and sugar, and then cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. After this time, the mixture should be dry, smooth, and any floury taste from the corn should be cooked out.

  3. Remove the choclo mixture from the saucepan and leave it to cool a little. Add the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.

  4. To assemble, take a piece of dough and flatten it to about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick in the center of a banana leaf. Put a tablespoon of cheese in the center of the dough. Lift up the two long sides of the leaf to help enclose the cheese in the dough and fold the edges over together. Then fold the remaining two sides over the top to create a roughly square parcel. Tie securely with string and place in a steamer. Repeat for all tamales.

  5. Steam for 30 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, make the salsa criolla: For a julienned salsa, thinly slice red onion, tomatoes, and rocoto chilies into fine julienne. Soak the onion in iced water for 10 minutes. Drain and mix with the tomatoes, chilies, lime juice, olive oil, and chopped cilantro sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.

  7. After tamales have finished steaming, unwrap and serve with the salsa criolla.