People who are stuck in finding the ideal masa harina substitute will definitely love what I stored here for you.
You see, just like you, I am a fellow cook who just enjoys learning recipes and discovering ingredients. These are the very reason why it is quite irksome if some of the foodstuffs that I need are not available. Even with the years I spent cooking, there are still instances where I get caught off guard.
An ingredient that became amiss in the kitchen is the last thing that I want to see whenever I am preparing food.
Masa harina is not exactly a staple ingredient in various dishes. However, it really pays to know all of its alternatives. When the time comes that it is absent in your kitchen counter, you will not fret at all.
What Is Masa Harina?
The first thing that we need to know is the background of masa harina. We need to identify its uses and some other things that can help us find its substitutes.
Whenever you are making tamale or corn tortilla, you will undoubtedly encounter the term masa harina. Many consider the latter as a specialty ingredient because it is reserved for specific recipes of applications.
Masa harina has a Mexican origin. When translated, it literally means dough flour. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, unlike other flour, masa harina features gluten-free composition.
Furthermore, it is different from its common counterparts--the cornmeal or cornflour--because the corn was steeped in lime water. By the way, I am referring to the calcium hydroxide here and not the lime water made from green citrus fruit. When you soak corn with lime water, it will combine with niacin and calcium, which in turn, allows it become easy to digest.
The corn is also rinsed several times until all of the residues will be removed. After that, it will be dried to become the masa harina that Mexicans truly love.
Here is a simple guide on how to make a corn masa!
Difference Of Masa Harina and Cornmeal
Allow me to emphasize a little bit about these two. This time, our focus is our all-trusty friend--the cornmeal.
Cornmeal, unlike masa harina, is just made from ground dried corn. It has a relatively coarse texture and consistency. Most of the time, its natural appearance is yellow. But there are also commercial counterparts where you can find white variants.
Cornmeal is used for making Polenta. However, its most handy use is preventing a pizza from sticking to a baking sheet or skillet.
Meanwhile, masa harina is not as coarse as cornmeal. Its consistency is quite similar to all-purpose flour. It is commonly used for various Mexican delicacies such as tamales and tortillas. You can also pour small amounts of masa harina to homemade recipes like soups and chili since it can work as a thickening agent.
Is corn flour same to masa harina? No. Don't ever get confused if they use the names interchangeably. As I said, masa harina is ground corn with lime or alkali treatment. On the flipside, cornflour is just corn that has been ground fine.
Is Masa Harina Healthy?
Well, masa harina can provide some decent health benefits. But the most notable perk that it can give you is the fact that it is gluten-free! If you are intolerant to gluten, then using masa harina should be the right option for you.
Since it is manufactured by using corn, you can expect that masa harina contains other essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, fiber, and vitamin A. Keep in mind that if you are doing low carbohydrate diets, you might need to stay away from this ingredient. After all, it is quite high in carbohydrate content.
Masa Harina Substitutes
What can i use instead of masa harina?
I've heard this question a couple of times already. And honestly, there's nothing more intriguing than knowing that some ingredients out there are replaceable. Masa harina is not an exemption.
With this in mind, here are some alternatives that you can use in place of masa harina.
1. Masa Preparada
Perhaps this is the best suggestion that I can offer to you. Fresh masa preparada is an excellent substitute for masa harina. And compared to the latter, this particular ingredient is way easier to use.
But why is that?
Well, masa preparada is just masa harina, but pre-made or pre-prepared already. That's why it has the word "preparada" on it. If fully translated, the term means prepared dough.
Therefore, you always have the option to purchase masa preparada instead of getting a masa harina in its powder form. I recommend you do this if you want to make the speed of your food preparation faster. If there's no masa harina in the market, then look for masa preparada. After all, these two are just the same thing.
But keep in mind that masa preparada isn't actually a long-lasting ingredient. Compared to masa harina, this one has a short shelf life. It is not ideal to be stored on extended periods. Upon purchase, you might need to use it as soon as possible.
Masa preparada comes in two consistency: smooth and course. Get the smooth one for making tortillas. Meanwhile, the course masa preparada is excellent for making tamale since it has seasonings already.
2. Ground Tortillas
Ground tortillas is another masa harina substitute that you should try. People who are huge fans of Mexican delicacies should be familiar with it.
Ground tortillas are simply leftover corn tortillas. It is the primary ingredient used in making tacos and burritos. If you are a fan in making these delicacies, then you have no problems when the time comes that you need to find a substitute for masa harina.
Always remember that tortillas are made from masa harina. Therefore, everything that is in this ingredient can be used as a replacement for masa harina. If you are tight in budget or if you don't want to go outside, these ground tortillas can serve your needs.
But of course, a little work is needed here. You need to convert the ground tortillas into a fine flour. At this point, it is crucial that you have a blender or food processor. They are the tools that you need to make the ingredient as fine as possible. Blend until such time the tortilla has a similar consistency as a masa harina.
3. Ground Hominy
There is still that option where you can use ground hominy as a substitute for masa harina. Hominy, for those who have no idea about it, is an ingredient made from corn kernels that had been processed through hulling. Just like masa harina, there is an alkali solution that is involved in the creation of hominy. The kernels will be soaked to it so that they would puff bigger.
Ground hominy is available in various local markets. It is available in either dried or canned form. But just like ground tortillas, you need a food processor so that you can make hominy as fine as masa harina. Try to research about the different consistencies of the flour and see which will suit your recipe.
If availability is the main criteria for our substitution, then there's nothing that can beat cornstarch. It is extremely common and can be purchased in any grocery store or market.
Cornstarch is used in various cooking applications. It can also be used in baking stuff. Even before reading this article, you might have cornstarch sitting in your kitchen already. And that's a good thing!
We can see cornstarch being used as a primary thickening agent for sauces and soups. But even in some homemade recipes, this ingredient can work like wonder. When added to a particular dish, it can provide a thick consistency that is difficult to rival. Well, they are quite similar to masa harina when it comes to this aspect.
However, one should know that cornstarch has a smoother texture than masa harina. The cornstarch powder is undeniable finer than its counterpart, too.
Unlike all the options that I listed here, Polenta is the only one that doesn't have a Mexican origin. This one has its roots traced back to northern Italy. But definitely, you can always use it as a substitute to masa harina.
Polenta comes in different varieties. But if you are planning to use it as an alternative to masa harina, you need to get it on its finely ground form. Once you have this already, you can utilize the Polenta in a way that is similar to when you are using masa harina.
If the ground form is not available, you can just opt for those polentas that are in tubes. They may not achieve the effects of the ground polenta, but you can use these tubed variants as thickening agents.
With all these things highlighted, I am hoping that you have learned something about the masa harina. The latter is a lovable ingredient and has a lot of uses, especially in making those traditional Mexican delicacies. If it is not available in your kitchen or your market, then the masa harina substitutes that I listed here can effectively replace it.
That's it for now. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.