Meat, it’s the Argentine tradition. Learning how to prepare an asado has been grilled into the DNA of the youth for generations. But what other cuisine is traditional in Argentina? I’m always fascinated about how food can tell where cultures have descended from and how they have changed with their surroundings.
This fascination leads me to try everything and anything, from every type of meat/cut to sandwiches and empanadas, which lead me to discover the local dish which is humita.
Humita is a dish that dates back to the indigenous cultures of the Americas and can be found in most Latin American countries.
Each country having their own twist and, in some countries, prepared sweet. In Argentina, most humitas have the following ingredients fresh corn, sautéed onions and some spices.
Depending on the region/cocinero it could have red peppers, milk, spring onions, or whatever else they got to use. Traditionally dough is wrapped in corn husks and boiled/steamed similar to a tamale.
Due to the Italian immigration in Argentina, it is quite common for cheese to be added. It is also a common flavor of empanadas that can be found at most panaderias (bakery).
Humita in Argentina is probably most commonly known as the flavor of an empanada. In which it is prepared much differently to the relleno (filling) of other countries tamale type version.
But you can still find the traditional ones at local ferias. The filling of empanadas is much similar to that of creamed corn but with some onions and sometimes capsicum and herbs.
To make this I dice onions and sweat these with a little butter until soft and translucent. While this cook cut the corn off the cob and cook in milk until tender (you can leave the cob in the milk for extra corn flavor just remember to take it out).
I like to take half the corn out and blend some of the corn into the milk before combining it all.
Once corn is cooked/blended and your onions are soft add a pinch of flour to the onions/butter and cook for a few moments until starts to look a bit like sand (look up how to make a roux if this is foreign to you).
Add your milky corn mixture bit by bit and it should thicken up to a nice filling consistency.
Place in the fridge and the relleno will firm up making the empanadas a lot easier to assemble.
If you want to make the tamale version the method is much different. It involves taking the husk off the corn carefully as to not ruin the leaves as these are used to wrap the dough.
Grind/process the fresh corn kernels into a dough and mix with sautéed onions and spices/seasonings of your choice (cheese is good too).
Place the dough into the Corn husks and wrap into a parcel and tie it to secure the contents will not fall out.
Cooking methods vary, it seems traditional to boil in salted water for 30 or so minutes, but you can also bake or grill. I prefer to steam as it provides a bit lighter not so doughy dish.