If you’re a Saveur magazine reader, you may have read a short story in the December 2009 issue about Mr. Cruz’s tamales. They were what got me making Asian leaf-wrapped parcels for our Christmas gatherings. (Both are leaf-wrapped, have carby insides and spicy fillings, and cooked by steam. They’re members of the global dumpling family.) When Mr. Cruz learned that I was writing about him for Saveur, he was so touched that he made a special batch of tamales on Thanksgiving Day and brought them over to my parents’ house. Tamales are part of the Nochebuena (Chrismas Eve) tradition but since Mr. Cruz plans to spend that holiday in Mexico, he created a new tradition of tamales for El Dia de Gracias. Below is a photo of Mr. Cruz that my Dad snapped for the artist rendering in the magazine piece:
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Before I left my folk’s house, I packed half a dozen of Mr. Cruz’s tamales in a plastic bag. Back in Santa Cruz, I tucked them away in the freezer for days like today, when it’s cold outside and I want to savor something steamy and satisfying. Dumplings surely fit the bill. So go crazy this holiday season and throw some Asian dumplings into your gifting routine. The recipients will love your generosity.
- Try the sweet Thai banana and sticky rice packets recipe (kao tom padt) from the article. Note that it’s different from the one in Asian Dumplings as the editors decided to omit the black beans.
- Enter Saveur’s Asian Dumplings Contest to win a FREE copy of my cookbook.
- Tips on how to use banana leaves