• Tamales chicken with green sauce (Adam Liaw)Source: Adam Liaw

"This is my own recipe and signature dish at my shops, although tamales original version and or author are unknown as it is one of oldest dishes from Mexico."






Skill level

Average: 4.8 (2 votes)


  • 500 g chicken breast fillets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ white onion

Salsa verde

  • 500 g green tomatillo (canned or fresh)
  • 10 green chillies fresh
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 15 g coriander


  • 25 dried corn husks
  • 200 g pork lard
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 500 g corn maize flour
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 650 ml (2 ½ cups) chicken stock, warmed

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Place the chicken breast in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the salt, bay leaves and onion and bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand the chicken in the water for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your fingers.
  2. Meanwhile, for the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. To assemble the tamales, soften the corn husks in warm water for about 15 minutes, then drain and squeeze out the excess water.
  4. Place the lard and baking powder in a bowl and use handheld electric beaters to whip the mixture until the lard is shiny and looks spongy. Add the flour, salt and warm chicken stock and mix until well combined.
  5. Spread a spoonful of dough in the middle of the corn husk, leaving at least a 4 cm border around the edges. Add 50 g shredded chicken and top with a good spoonful of salsa verde. Top with a little more dough to cover, then fold over to make a roll, then fold in the sides. Wrap the parcel tightly in foil and repeat with the remaining corn husks and filling.
  6. Bring a large steamer to the boil, then steam the tamales for 1 hour. To check if your tamales are ready, unwrap the husk and check that the dough doesn't stick to it and looks shiny and fluffy. Let them cool down for 10 minutes before serving.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.