The Ingredient You Can Use In Place Of Masa For Tamales

Making tamales at home is easier than it looks. Also, they make for great meal prep, because, once wrapped, they can be frozen and steamed straight from the freezer. Normally you would use masa as the base and fill it with whatever ingredients you like. However, although prepared masa is becoming more readily available, sometimes you just can't find it. Not to worry, you can make it yourself using masa harina.

If masa and masa harina sound similar, that's because they are. Masa harina makes masa when you add warm water. Masa harina is essentially flour, and masa is essentially dough. You can buy masa at many Mexican grocery stores, but masa harina is more widely available. You can find it in the Latin American aisle at your local grocery store. Using masa harina for tamales is a little bit different than using it for tortillas, though. For tamales, you'll need to add some type of fat to create the soft binding needed to keep them together. Traditionally, that would have been lard but these days vegetable and canola oil are also popular.

How to make tamales using masa harina

There are three elements to the tamale formula: corn husks, the filling, and masa. Once you've organised the husks and made the filling, prepare the masa by taking three cups of masa harina and putting it in a bowl. Pour in 2 ¼ cups of water or broth and mix together by hand until the dough is nice and soft. From here, add 1 ¼ cups of vegetable oil into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low and add the dough in one piece at a time. Just break a small amount off and add it in. When you're done, add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder.

Now you've got masa and can continue making your tamale recipe as specified. Whether you're making a classic pork and onion recipe or chicken and poblano tamales, you're all set for a delicious meal. Add the filling, roll them in the corn husks, and steam them until cooked. Tamales freeze well once steamed, too, so if you aren't going to eat all of them right away, you can store them with no problem.