Simona Padilla owned a meat market on 24th and York streets for 15 years. There, she started cooking Mexican dishes to sell. Although she says she’s mostly a home cook, she’s gone on to cook for the likes of the Mexican consul, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and fundraising events for the Society of Professional Journalists among other organizations. In this video, Simona Padilla shows us how to make tamales, a dish traditionally served for Christmas, and special occasions.

All the ingredients shown in the video can be purchased at La Palma on 24th Street and Casa Lucas.

Simo’s Tamales (makes approximately 24 tamales)

4 chicken thighs
1 pasilla chile
2 pounds of prepared masa (ask for masa preparada for tamales at La Palma)
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2 dry California chile
1 dry guajillo chile
1 dry pasilla chile
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1 bag of dry corn husks

Soak corn husks in water for at least one hour. Place in a bowl.

For chicken tamales
Boil chicken thighs or breasts in water and salt. Keep broth for salsa.
To make the salsa, take out seeds from dry California chiles, guajillo chile, and pasilla chile.
Sautee in oil.
Put in blender with garlic, 1/2 cup of water, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Pour salsa in leftover chicken broth.
Add a bay leaf and cook salsa on stove for a few minutes.

For rajas tamales
Remove seeds from fresh pasilla chiles and cut in three strips.
Cut Monterrey cheese in strips.

Take corn husks and spread prepared masa on husk leaving the bottom third empty.
Place filling of choice and fold.
Place in a steam basket and steam for approximately 25-30 minutes.


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Hélène Goupil

Hélène Goupil is a former editor at Mission Local who now works independently as a videographer and editor. She's the co-author of "San Francisco: The Unknown City" (Arsenal Pulp Press).

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