D.I.Y – or don’t. Masa Harina por favor.

This week we received a gift from a friend.

If you don’t know ( I didn’t) this is a tortilla press and some special Sth American corn flour for making tortillas. My friend (Kid’s mum actually) had a little trouble with this so I’ve accepted the challenge.

DIY Tortillas.

2 cups masa harina flour – available on-line and in specialty stores
1.5 cups hot water
1 DIY Tortilla press
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until well formed. It will be sticky. Tip it onto a bench with plenty more masa and knead until you’ve got a nice dough.DIY2

Its good  to let the dough rest for at least an hour to relax. In the mean time we made fillings for the tortillas. We used the masa harina to coat some chicken and made a vegetable slaw.
Masa Harina Chicken

2-3 chicken tenderloins per person
masa harina flour
lemon zest
picked and chopped coriander
cumin powder
cinnamon powder
turmeric powder
egg wash and flour for dusting
Flatten the chicken as you coat it with the palm of your hand so it will cook evenly. Gently sauté in a light olive oil until golden brown and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a little salt.

For the Vegie Slaw I sliced some vegetables – zucchini, capsicum, carrots and spring onions and Kid dressed them with some whole egg mayo, lemon juice and coriander.

Back to the tortillas. The amount of dough we had gave us about 15 tortillas. Some were lost to experimentation with the press and cooking and tasting. We rolled the dough into a cylinder to make it easier to portion.
You don’t need much dough for each, too thick and they are clunky to eat.


Place some baking paper on the press and then the dough, then some more paper. Press down on the handle until the dough is flat. It’s a bit like a play-dough set really,  it oozes out the sides a bit.
Turn the dough and press again, do this  a couple of times to get an even thickness.

Pre-heat a non stick fry pan to bursting. I found that peeling off one side of paper and placing it face down in the pan and then removing the other piece of paper worked best. This way you don’t need to touch the rolled out dough. About a minute either side is all you need. Repeat until you have a pile of golden tortillas ready for dinner.
Slice the chicken, put everything in the middle of the table and DIY.


What Kid Did

A good one for Kid involvement this week, especially considering that this was new to both of us. We had fun working out the press together. Kid made the dough in the food processor and then I showed her how to knead dough on the bench using the ‘fold and turn’ technique.
My dad actually showed me how to do that many years ago.
Before I became a chef even.

Kid pressed some tortillas, washed the coriander and made the salad. Then Kid surprised me with her knowledge of the crumbing process (for the chicken). I forget  sometimes that she also lives in a big busy house and gets to help out there too.
The problem with crumbing is that sometimes you end up with crumbed fingers.
Kid agreed. We learnt that the answer to this is the ‘wet hand, dry hand’ method.


You basically nominate a wet hand and a dry hand. Wet only ever touches wet and dry only ever touches dry and there should be no crumbed fingers. Use the flour and the crumb (masa harina in this case) to handle the food instead of your fingers.
I can crumb food on an industrial scale this way and finish with clean hands.

The Wash Up
Great dinner. Everything worked well together taste-wise and we had an excellent afternoon together playing with the dough, the press and the crumbing, listening to Katy Perry all the while. Music in the background adds good rhythm to the process. There was also some embarrassing dad dancing in the kitchen!
There were loads of vibrant colours from the masa harina and the vegetables.
I added a little chilli sauce to my tacos because that’s what I like.
Would I do the tortillas again? Sure. On a day when time is no concern.
Otherwise you can buy ready made ones without much trouble.
The chicken was a winner though and we’ll be keeping that up our sleeves for sure.
Masa harina is gluten free by a happy coincidence too.

What is Masa Harina?
It’s a coarse flour made from a dough made from corn.  It is used in Spanish and Sth American cooking. Check the link. But don’t forget to come back 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. Vegan tamales.

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