Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grilled masa: Oh the things you can make

There are a million shapes you can make masa. Hey it is like playdough right? But it tastes so much better. This weekend we picked up some fresh masa from Primavera at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer's market (along with their very tasty chicken mole tamales). We put the cast iron griddle on the grill and heated it up for some masa creations.

If you live near a good Mexican grocer, you can get fresh masa. It is so much better than the reconstituted variety, but if you can't get fresh masa, you can use masa harina. Just reconstitute it according to the package directions for making tortillas. I find I like to add a bit more water to make a softer dough.No matter what you do, good masa creations are perfect for the gluten-free diet (and the gluten-full diet too). 

The recipe for this post is less of a recipe and more of a technique. All you need is the dough, a hot griddle and your imagination. You can even use premade salsa and shredded rotisserie chicken for a super quick or canned black beans, but fun weeknight meal. The Mexicans are onto something...

Here are a few of our creations:


Tlayudas are Mexican pizza. A thick-ish tortilla topped traditionally with spiced black bean puree and fresh cheese. To make it take a ball of masa and roll it out between plastic wrap. Place on hot cast iron griddle, heated over medium heat if you have a strong stove, for 1 minute, take off, spread black beans on the cooked side, top as desired, and place on the griddle (obviously uncooked side down). Cook until it starts to puff up and is cooked through. 

For the black beans: Saute some onions, a bit of garlic, add your cooked black beans, simmer with a bit of stock and Mexican oregano, until the black beans are nice and soft. Mash up with salt to taste and serve. Even more cheater, and I can't believe I am admitting this, zap some soft canned black beans with a bit of Better than Bouillon. 


Memelas are also an Oaxacan specialty, kind of like sopes. It is a masa "dish" filled with toppings of your choice. We filled it with scallops topped with green pipian sauce I had stashed in the freezer. But you can fill with salsa and chicken, beans and enchilada sauce, sauteed mushrooms and squash with chipotle, you choose..

To make memelas, take a ball of masa and pat to about a 1/4 inch thick. Place on hot griddle (see tlayuda for notes on temperature) for about 2 minutes or until it gets brown spots on the bottom, flip until the other side has brown spots. Remove from griddle. Using a spoon or in my case asbestos hands, work the uncooked masas in the center toward the edges to make a lip around the edges. Fill with filling that is pre-cooked, but not hot. Put on griddle and cook until filling warms up. I closed the grill lid to help out. You can use a toaster oven or conventional oven too to warm it if the bottom cooks faster.


Pupusas are a Salvadorean specialty, a masa disk stuffed with cheese, beans, meat, loroco (a flower) or served with a acidic spicey cabbage slaw called curtido. I love these things. We stuffed ours with black beans and cheese this time around.

To make pupusas, take a ball of masa and poke a hole in the middle, Work it so you have a flat cavity, put in your filling, seal it and pat it into a thin disk. Or you can use two pieces of dough, and seal together over the filling. Place on the griddle over medium heat, 2-3 minutes per side.

Stuffed quesadillas

In Mexico quesadillas are made with masa dough, stuffed and then fried. They are wonderful, but I rarely fry. So I did the same thing on the grill. Take two golf ball sized balls of masa, roll out or use a tortilla press until it is the thickness of a corn torilla. Top with filling of your choice, but make sure it isn't too wet. Press the other ball into a disk and then top. Seal the edges. Place on the griddle for 1-2 minutes per side until the masa is cooked through the the quesadillas start to puff.

1 comment:

  1. This looks really delicious! I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for masa next time I hit my local Mexican store. Thanks for sharing!