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Ay caramba! Steal this Ritz Cancun recipe!

In this special feature, “Today” Food Editor Phil Lempert brings you recipes “stolen” (with permission) from notable restaurants across the world. See how much money you can save — and fun you can have — by cooking these dishes at home!This week: Caribbean Lobster Tamal from the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, MexicoThe award-winning Ritz-Carlton resort in Cancun, Mexico, features innovative c

In this special feature, “Today” Food Editor Phil Lempert brings you recipes “stolen” (with permission) from notable restaurants across the world. See how much money you can save — and fun you can have — by cooking these dishes at home!

This week: Caribbean Lobster Tamal from the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, Mexico

The award-winning Ritz-Carlton resort in Cancun, Mexico, features innovative cuisine, topline tequila tastings and wine lists, and creative cocktails. We've "stolen" one of Executive Chef Rainer Zinngrebe's signature dishes and modified it for the home cook and to take advantage of the ingredients that can be found in most neighborhood food markets.

Most recently, he headed the food and beverage division at The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, during which time he published his first cookbook, “Beyond Fusion,” offering a new look at ethnic influences on contemporary cooking.

(Please note that ingredient prices are estimates and based on national averages.)

Caribbean Seafood Tamal (with organic greens and warm tomato dressing)

This dish has six components that should be prepared in the following order: Tamal (a Mexican preparation of crushed maize which will be wrapped in corn husks and steamed), Tomato concasse, Tamal stuffing, Organic salad with vinaigrette, Garlic chips and Tomato Dressing.


Combine in a bowl the corn flour with the water and bacon grease until it holds together. Keep working dough until mixture will not stick to your hands.  Add salt to taste. Cover the dough with a cloth and allow to rest while mixing other ingredients.(Reserve 2-4 tbsps of dough for Warm Tomato Dressing below.)

Tomato concasse

Sauté garlic in olive oil until it is transparent. Then add the onion; cooking until soft. Simmer the tomatoes gently, until all the water evaporates. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and then the parsley.

Tamal Filling

Combine diced tomatoes, chopped onion and crushed red pepper. Mix thoroughly and add salt and pepper for flavoring. Take out the dough and make a small ball with your hands (ping pong ball size). Put it between two plastic bags and press until you have a thin saucer shaped disc. Remove the top plastic bag and add a spoonful of the stuffing and place it in the middle of the dough. Fold each side into center to cover stuffing. Fold remaining sides up to each other and pinch together to completely encase the stuffing. Wrap each tamal like a package using corn husk. Thin pieces of the husk can be used like twine to secure the corn husk wrapper. Remaining dough can be made into plain tamales for garnishing. Steam all the pieces for 45 minutes, letting them rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Organic Greens With Red Wine Mustard Vinaigrette

Combine the wine vinegar, lemon, sugar, salt and mustard in a blender. Add the oil and season. Mix with greens, and fresh ground pepper.

Garlic chips

Slice the garlic cloves as thin as possible. Place the slices in a small saucepan and cover with cold milk. Bring the milk to a boil, drain the garlic slices in a strainer (discard the milk) and rinse them under cold water. Return the slices to the pan and repeat the process two more times; using fresh milk each time. Pat the garlic slices dry on paper towels. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the slices to the hot oil and fry for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bubbles around the chips have subsided.They will be a light golden brown. Drain the garlic chips on paper towels.

Warm Tomato Dressing

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the tomatoes and chiles; let simmer on low heat. Blend the dough with 1/2 cup broth to form a paste. Add paste with a whisk to the sauce mixture until desired thickness is reached.

Place the warm tamal onto a bed of greens. Drizzle with warm tomato dressing and chopped parsley. Top with garlic chips and small piece of sautéed Surimi (the imitation lobster/crab).

($14.00 at restaurant, $6.40 at home — replacing the lobster with Surimi, seafood that looks like lobster or crab, but made from mostly white fish fillets)


corn flour2cup2 cups corn flour ($0.21)bacon grease4tablespoon2-4 tablespoons melted bacon grease ($0.20)salt0.5teaspoonHalf a teaspoon salt ($0.04)garlic1clove1 clove garlic, finely minced ($0.10)Italian parsley leaves2tablespoon2 tbsps Italian parsley leaves, removed from stalk ($0.10)tomatoes1can1 small can diced tomatoes ($0.65)white onion0.25cup1/4 cup diced white onion ($0.25)Salt and pepper, to taste ($0.02)tomato concasse1cup1 cup Tomato Concasse (see above)onion1tablespoon1 tablespoon chopped onion ($0.01)dry red pepper0.125teaspoon1/8 teaspoon crushed dry red pepper ($0.02)corn11 corn husk (soaked in water) ($0.27)imitation lobster or crab6ounce6oz imitation lobster or crab ($1.45)organic greens2cup2 cups organic greens ($0.75)extra virgin olive oil0.25cup1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil ($0.10)red wine vinegar1tablespoon1 tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.01)lemon juice1teaspoon1 tsp lemon juice ($0.02)sugar0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp sugar ($0.03)salt0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp salt ($0.01)dijon mustard0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.08)Freshly ground black pepper, to taste ($0.01)garlic1clove1 clove garlic ($0.10)milk2cup2 cups cold milk (any variety except skim) ($0.35)canola oil1cup1 cup canola oil ($0.25)canola oil0.5cup1/2 cup canola oil ($0.12)white onion3tablespoon3 tbsps white onion, chopped ($0.03)garlic1clove1 clove garlic, chopped ($0.10)red pepper1teaspoon2 small, fresh chiles, chopped, or 1 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.10)tomato1cup1 cup diced tomato ($0.35)tamal dough4tablespoon2-4 tbsps Tamal dough (see above)chicken broth1can1 can chicken broth ($0.60)Salt and pepper, to taste ($0.02)


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The The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, is located at Retorno Del Rey # 36, Zona Hotelera, Cancun 77500, Q.Roo, Mexico. For more information, visit

Want to find out how you can make your favorite restaurant recipe at home? Just send e-mail Phil at with the name of the restaurant, city and state and the dish you would like to have re-created! Want to know more about Phil and food? Visit his website at