A tamale steamer does just what it says, steams tamales. Since tamales play such an important role in Mexican cuisine, anybody that loves to cook Mexican dishes will appreciate this wonderful item.
What is a Tamale Steamer?
Basic tamale steamers are a tall metal bucket-like pot with a perforated metal divider that sits at the bottom to keep the tamales out of the hot water. Tha tamales are stacked upright inside the bucket. The more modern versions consist of stackable pans that each hold a layer of tamales. Water is placed in the bottom pan and the additional pans are stacked on top. They are always large since making tamales is quite a task and you will usually make quite a few at one time.
The Authentic Tamale Steamer
This 20 quart Tamale Steameris made of aluminum and iron and is useful and affordable cooking utensil. I like this one because it is nice and simple, no frills. The perforated steaming disc at the bottom sits at a nice height so the tamales won't get soaked, but you can put enough water in for a good amount of steaming without it simmering away all the water. The pot is sturdy so it won't dent or ding easily. The lid is a bit light and may slide during cooking, so check it often to make sure not to much steam is escaping. Overall, it is an ideal piece of cookware.
How much can you expect to pay?
A traditional tin bucket steamer can be found for around $20 USD. The more modern stackable steamer can be found for around $30 USD. There are also bucket style steaming pots that have various features such as mirror finishes, enamel finishes, heat resistant handles or high-quality metal.