What makes the last several weeks of the year tamales season? Long Beach-based journalist Gab Chabran says it's because tamales are a communal food made with friends and family and another thing to unwrap. Mexican versions are made with masa, lard, and corn husks, and are typically filled with pork, chicken, and beef with either a red or green sauce. Contents of Central and South American versions are larger and wrapped in banana leaves, which brings properties like moisture to the masa. Seeds are used in the sauce and ingredients include dried fruits.
Growing up in Whittier, Chabran’s family lined up for their tamales in La Moderna. His favorite discovery in researching his roundup was El Fogón in Lawndale. Run by a mother-son duo, they are making traditional Guatemalan Tamales Colorados and styles including “paches,” where potatoes are incorporated into the masa.
Looking for something different? Try Wes Avila duck and mole tamales at Angry Egret Dinette. And Yunia Fuentes Mata is using cranberry beans, queso Oaxaca, and jalapeno rajas in her El Rey tamal at Tamales Olmeca.
Here are all of Chabran’s seasonal recommendations that he compiled with Cesar Hernandez for LA Taco.