• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
rancho_gordo

Masa as Thickener

18 posts in this topic

How authentic is using a little wet masa as a thickener? I have seen it used in mostl recipes for Mole Amarillo but then it's absent in a few.

I made a stew of leftover vegetables and pozole and it was too thin so I mixed as little Maseca with cold water and then dribbled it into the stew. It thickened a bit but what I really love is the taste. It's like adding fresh tortillas! Is this done often?


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I add masa to chile that is not quite thick enough or has a bit too much fat. The masa seems to take up the fat first and does add a rich note to the taste.

Sometimes I add just a little to albondigas that lacks a particular flavor for which I am aiming.

I always add it to green chile stew, either chicken or pork. In this case I ladle some of the liquid into a small pan so it is about 1/2 an inch of liquid then bring it to a simmer and add masa, a little at a time, whisking constantly until it is thick like porrige. I continue cooking it, stirring constantly, until it begins to look a bit dry. I remove it from the heat and add more liquid from the stew until it is a slurry with no lumps, then stir it back into the stew.

Oh yes, I keep the masa in a shaker just as I do flour. It is much easier to add it to a pot this way, when I want to add it little by little.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Masa--a little ball of masa from the tortillería around the corner--is always the thickener for atole (de guayaba, de vainilla, de zarzamora, etc), for tejuino, and for a Purhépecha soup that I make. I haven't tried it for thickening other things, but I can't think why it wouldn't work. Andiesenji is right: it does need to be incorporated into hot liquid before it can be added to the pot of whatever you want to thicken.

It's also interesting that something that is a powder--masa harina--is being called masa. Masa harina literally means 'dough flour'; once you add the liquid it becomes masa (the dough).

And Sr. Rancho Gordo says 'wet masa'. Would that be the reconstituted masa harina, or am I missing something here? I'm confused.


What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Masa--a little ball of masa from the tortillería around the corner--is always the thickener for atole (de guayaba, de vainilla, de zarzamora, etc), for tejuino, and for a Purhépecha soup that I make.  I haven't tried it for thickening other things, but I can't think why it wouldn't work.  Andiesenji is right: it does need to be incorporated into hot liquid before it can be added to the pot of whatever you want to thicken.

It's also interesting that something that is a powder--masa harina--is being called masaMasa harina literally means 'dough flour'; once you add the liquid it becomes masa (the dough). 

And Sr. Rancho Gordo says 'wet masa'.  Would that be the reconstituted masa harina, or am I missing something here?  I'm confused.

Esperanza, I think that we up here in the masa=impoverished regions to the north of the Rio Grande sometimes lapse into bad form and refer to Maseca and its cohorts as masa. We know that it's dry ... masa harina, or nixtamalized corn flour, but ... there you are!.

I have seen many guisos, pot moles, stews, etc . & what have you thickened with a little masa mixed with water ... or masa harina mixed into a slurry with water and added to a brothy dish to thicken it. And RG is right, it has a certain unmistakable aroma and taste that is just, well, very, very Mexican.

It is only the lucky few who live in areas where there has been established a 'real' Mexican-style molino for making masa. Otherwise, we are pretty much stuck with what we can make of Maseca. Yes, he IS talking about reconstituted masa harina.

Regards,

Theabroma


Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is only the lucky few who live in areas where there has been established a 'real' Mexican-style molino for making masa. Otherwise, we are pretty much stuck with what we can make of Maseca. Yes, he IS talking about reconstituted masa harina.

Sorry for the confusion but in my haste to express my joy for my makeshift stew, I wasn't clear.

I actually work with a family that makes tortillas and fresh masa and I sell them at farmers markets on the weekends. The masa is a beautiful thing and it strikes me as almost alive. So I have access to fresh, ground "wet" masa normally. But not last night. So I mixed a little Maseca in cold water until it was a thick gruel and then dribbled it into the stew.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can buy bags of wet masa, masa for tortillas or masa for tamale at either Vallarta Supermercado, or one of the two independent carnicerias here in Lancaster.

However there are other things added to the masa which I don't necessarily want in some of my dishes, so I buy the dried.

If I am making a dish in which I want a coarser masa I simply buy the wet processed corn also sold at Vallarta and process it carefully in the food processor until it is the way I want it.

I use this in tamale pie and it is very, very good.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have done the same thing with my BBQ posole, Rancho. Yes. It tastes good. One time, just for the heck of it, I mixed the masa harina with some fresh lard and "toasted" it in a frying pan. I was thinking corn "roux". I have no idea if this is ever done in Mexico. It was really good and thickened the posole quite nicely. It was almost a completely different dish.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can buy bags of wet masa, masa for tortillas or masa for tamale at either Vallarta Supermercado, or one of the two independent carnicerias here in Lancaster. 

However there are other things added to the masa which I don't necessarily want in some of my dishes, so I buy the dried. 

I think masa should have corn, water and lime and nothing else. Normally it comes in coarse for tamales and fine for tortillas. There's also masa preparado with the lard already added. Normally, this is kind of nasty, at least in my area.

Hey you Mexico Girls- I will be careful from now on to refer to masa as masa and reconstituted masa from Masesca as masa harina. Did I get it right? Please correct me.

Fifi- one time I made a tortilla out of masa preparado and fried it on my comal. I am embaressed to admit how much I like it!


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is fascinating because I think it goes to the heart of the difference between Mexican and Western (including American) cooking. Growing up I learnt that flour was the thickener for soups, sauces etc. I learnt to reach for flour whenever anything looked too watery.

I don't think that's the reaction of a Mexican cook. Absolutely they use masa for atole as Esperanza says. And they probably use it elsewhere as Theabroma says. But most Mexican sauces are thickened (1) by the flesh of tomatillos and chiles as in salsa verde, roja and adobos or (2) in more complicated pipians and moles by some or all of the same and seeds, nuts and spices as well.

I asked one of my friends about this today. Since Mexican cooking is so divided by class and region, here's her background. She's lived in Guanajuato all her life, her husband was an upper level bank manager, she ran a very successful comida corrida (quick lunch which means soup, rice/noodles, main dish, dessert) place for about fifteen years, and is well traveled and educated (just back from a wedding in Helsinki, Finland).

Oh yes, she said, we use harina (flour) to thicken cremas and salsa gravy. What kind of harina? Well harina de trigo (wheat flour) or masa harina (maseca). Masa harina is more "finura" --fine or refined or better in general--than harina de trigo.

Now salsa gravy is something I've had my eye on for some time so I asked her to define it. That's the salsa you use with a roast pork loin, roast chicken, pork chops, or crepes. She'd just yesterday been to a wonderful comida where crepes with salsa gravy ( a white salsa gravy) were the second course between the wild rice and the shrimp.

Cremas are pureed vegetable soups.

So what she was saying essentially was that flour thickeners, whether of wheat flour or masa harina, were used to thicken cream soups, gravy and bechamel. That is, basically Western sauces.

I asked her whether she used harina to thicken salsas de chile and she said never.

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's funny coming back to this thread after all these years.

So Gunajuato is a no but now that I've travailed and asked a lot more, it's not uncommon in Oaxaca.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, R.G. Eight years is a long time. I don't get your reference to Gunajuato.

Are you referring to the use of masa for thickening stews is Oaxaca?

My Mexican neighbor makes a vegetable stew that she thickens with masa. The vegetables vary with the seasons, I especially like it in the fall when she adds calabaza to the carrots, potatoes and onions, etc., instead of sweet potatoes. Although like the sweet potatoes (the white kind) I think the flavor is better. She serves the stew over rice. She has told me that it is a traditional dish for Holy days when they don't eat meat in the Durango area where she was raised.

P.S. I still miss Fifi.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, R.G. Eight years is a long time. I don't get your reference to Gunajuato.

Are you referring to the use of masa for thickening stews is Oaxaca?

yes, Rachel had said that her friend would never have done that in Guanajuato.

I do see it a lot in Oaxaca, and not just with the Mole Amarillo. And like you say, it's delicious. I'll have to try it with all vegetables, as you point out.

My Mexican neighbor makes a vegetable stew that she thickens with masa. The vegetables vary with the seasons, I especially like it in the fall when she adds calabaza to the carrots, potatoes and onions, etc., instead of sweet potatoes. Although like the sweet potatoes (the white kind) I think the flavor is better. She serves the stew over rice. She has told me that it is a traditional dish for Holy days when they don't eat meat in the Durango area where she was raised.

it's funny but reading this I sound insane. "Wet masa" !

P.S. I still miss Fifi.

Me, too. Especially when I cook with my clay pieces.


Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just in Veracruz and the cook was making a very nice soup of shrimp and crab but she also added these masa dumplings:

12603062695_4409b5328e_c.jpg

I was very excited because I thought they'd be delicious but they were pretty bland and very "well-cooked". But I realized the masa dissolves a little into the soup, flavoring it and thickening it. The soup itself was incredible.

12603483024_180dbfd393_c.jpg

12603161183_bc69fb8794_c.jpg

The shrimp their were small to medium and excellent.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aren't those little dimpled masa dumplings called chochoyotes? 


Primate Asilvestrado

Solano County, California

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe you are right but it's so much easier to call them masa dumplings!


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm disappointed to hear that they were bland, since they look delicious in the photo! Do you think there would be a way to make them in such a way that they weren't? Maybe just more salt? 


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think their purpose was to thicken the stew and per serving, you maybe got two. The stars were the crab and shrimp. 

How do you make matzoh balls better? Maybe the technique would be the same. 


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've made masa dumplings with quest fresco mixed in and that improved them quite a bit. A good shake of garlic powder helped, too. Matzo balls are much airier, probably because of the gluten and the egg binder, not to mention the structure inherent in the matzo meal. Some people add baking powder or seltzer to make their matzo balls lighter, but I find that gentle handling makes for good, airy balls. I don't know if those tips would translate to masa dumplings, but maybe you could make "masa meal" with dried out tortillas and use that to make dumplings. Hmm. I may have to try that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By Gunnsr42
      Hello foodies. Tell us what work of art you're cooking for your meals these days. 
    • By Chris Hennes
      Over in the Cooking with "Eat Mexico" topic I've posted a about things I've made from Lesley Téllez's recently-published book about street food in Mexico City. I finally had time to go down to "CDMX" (as they are now trying to rebrand themselves) this weekend and went on two of the Eat Mexico food tours. On Friday we went on the street food tour, and on Saturday on the San Juan market tour. The pope was also in town this weekend which made the city crazier than usual and drove the tour selections as we tried to not be where he was, with limited success.
       
      Street Food Tour
      I have limited photos of this one because our hands were usually full! There are ten "normal" stops on the tour plus a couple of optional ones. One of the vendors was closed for the day, but we definitely had no shortage of food. I think the tour lasted something like four hours, and we were basically eating the whole time. Most of it was standing and walking, but we did stop into a local coffee shop and sit down for a short time. Our guide, Arturo, was excellent. He is from the city, has attended culinary school, and is very well versed in both the local street food culture as well as Mexican cuisine overall. 
       
      While the tour was mostly eating, we did walk through one small neighborhood market just to get the feel for the thing, and we stopped at one local tortilleria:


       
      The classic tortilla-delivery vehicle:

       
      We chatted up a local store owner who was making "antojitos" ("little cravings") for breakfast:

       
      Ate some tamales, walked a bit, then had some tlacoyos: here are the condiments...

       
      We also had some fresh juices. They really like their pseudo-medicinal juices.. we had the one that was "anti-flu" (and delicious):

       
      For the tlacoyos I had a huitlacoche and my wife has the chicken tinga. The huitlacoche was disappointingly non-descript. The remedy, of course, was to douse it in salsa, which fixes everything. A few blocks down we had carnitas tacos:
       
       
      And then some mango and watermelon with chile powder:

       
      Arturo tried to ply us with more food at the nearby burreria, but at this point we were on the verge of exploding:

       
      So we stopped for some locally-roasted coffee:

       
      Then on to a burrito place (of all things!) -- the guy running the burrito place was hilarious, and totally frank about stealing the burrito thing from Texas and then "fixing it." He's had the stand for something like 20 years. We split a squash blossom burrito (squash blossoms, onions, salsa, and cheese are the only ingredients, no rice or beans) which he makes on the griddle and then covers in a cheese blend and fries until the cheese browns and crisps. Definitely an improved burrito! Yeah, no photos there. Second to last was an absolutely terrific octopus tostada:

       
      And then a final stop for dessert (which we took back to the hotel rather than eating it there):

       
       
      ETA: A couple more photos. Also, there was a turkey and pork sandwich of some kind that I have no photos of and can't quite remember where it fit into the tour. Just in case you were worried about us starving.


    • By cyalexa
      Salsa Para Enchiladas  
      3 ancho chiles
      2 New Mexico chiles
      2 chipotle chiles
      1 clove garlic, sliced
      2 TB flour
      2 TB vegetable oil
      1 tsp vinegar
      ¾ tsp salt
      ¼ tsp dried oregano
      2 cups broth, stock, or (filtered) chili soaking liquid
      Rinse, stem and seed chiles. Place in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Cover and remove from heat and let soften and cool. While the chiles are cooling, gently sauté garlic slices in oil until they are soft and golden brown. Remove the garlic from the oil, with a slotted spoon and reserve. Make a light roux by adding the flour to the oil and sautéing briefly. Drain the chilies and puree them with the garlic slices and half of the liquid. Strain the puree back into the saucepan. Pour the remainder of the liquid through the sieve to loosen any remaining chili pulp. Add the roux to the saucepan and whisk to blend. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, bring to a boil then and simmer 15-20 minutes. Taste and add additional salt and vinegar if necessary.
    • By IowaDee
      The February issue of Sunset Magazine has a great article about the beans of Mexico.  And guess who is featured.....our own Steve Sando.  Nice write up and lots and lots of recipes.  I have been a Sunset subscriber for more than 25 years and I finally :"know" someone in it.  Cool Beans as they say.
       
      I hope someone with more skills than I have can post a link. 
    • By gfron1
      A friend gifted me a book written by someone I know of but only loosely. The acquaintance is a former missionary who has lived in Oaxaca for 15 years and co-authored this book with Susana Trilling (famous Oaxacan cooking instructor). The book is self published and really surprised me with its quality. The whole thesis is saving the indigenous foods of the area and combatting GMO infiltration of the area. Those of you who know the area might know of one of my hero restaurants - the like-minded Itanoni in Oaxaca City - surely they all travel in the same circles.
       
      Recipes are average fare - not fancy - clearly recipes from regular local folk, but very authentic, not fusion. They start with basic fresh masa, run you through all sorts of things including molé  and salads and end up with stuff like yucca and egg tacos. The chapters include: Wild Greens (purslane, amaranth, etc), Beans & Squash, Salsa, Nopal and Maguey, Food and Fiesta, Medicinal uses. About 300 pages in all (so figure 150 in English and 150 in Spanish).
       
      This book is not available through Amazon. It is bilingual. I highly recommend it. 
       
      Side note: Quite frankly these guys are goofs. They don't know how important and well produced this book is and aren't marketing it worth crap. Go buy it. Tell them I sent you. And enjoy this book.
       
      HERE
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.