with EL CHAVO!
to make Masa for Vegetarian Tamales!
What's a tamal without the masa? Probably just steamed vegetables in a
sauce. The masa is what gives everything order, providing the structure
in which the fillings can mature into a hand sized meal to be enjoyed
by all! It helps to (mostly) contain all the ingredients into a nice
hand sized package ready to be of service when you next need a meal.
So let's get started with the masa. You've already made
your nixtamal right?
This is a rough estimation of the proportions I used for this
particular batch. You will have to evaluate and poke and prod and taste
to see if it works for you. DO NOT ASSUME THIS IS A PERFECT RECIPE!
7 cups (homemade and ground) Nixtamal
1 cup Corn oil
2 cups Vegetarian Stock
2 cups Sauce
Salt, a good amount
My ground nixtamal, ready to go. The hard part of this upcoming process
is mixing the ingredients into this dense ball of corn clay.
For the stock I make mine usually from vegetarian bouillon cubes or
from some other powder stuff available at health food stores
everywhere. Or you can buy it in those soymilk containers, like they
have at Trader Joe's. Or make it from scratch if you have the time. I
usually add a bit of extra stuff to mine, like some nutritional yeast
for savoriness, or extra salt, or whatever it might need.
I make a big pot of the sauce that will go into the tamal precisely so
I can use some to be mixed into the masa. The main thing to know is
that the way your masa tastes before you cook it will be pretty much
how it will taste after you cook it, so you want to try to flavor and
salt it somewhat so it doesn't taste all boring. I find that mixing the
sauce in helps tons.
I happen to have a Kitchen Aid mixer cuz I'm a sellout Bourgeois
Pig. But if you're still part of the working class, you can put your
manual labor into practice by mixing it all with your very productive
hands! Yup, just wash your hands and have yourself an intimate
with some hot corn. We don't need a KitchenAid, the KitchenAid needs
Add your ingredients slowly, some nixtamal, some oil, some stock, and
mix it up. With your hands, your mom's hand mixer, or some vendidos
KitchenAid. The mistake I recently made (and I knew it would
happen) was to add all the wet ingredients at once, trying to save
time, but then my masa was too watery, which was harder to fix. Better
to keep it a bit on the dry side and add the liquids slowly to get it
to where you want it. For me that means tasty, slick, easy to work
with, not too watery, not too dry, and a bit airy as well. Mind you, I
don't like it too airy either, which is why I don't add any baking
powder like many people do. But to each their own.
Taste it, then taste again. The list above was what I believe I used in
the process of preparing my masa, but you may have to add or subtract
depending on your circumstances. Some people do this test where they
roll up a ball of masa and see if it floats in a glass of water, but I
think that's stupid. Mostly cuz I don't like those type of tamales,
with a thick skin of spongy masa around a hint of filling, all masudos.
I like mine with a hint of masa around my fillings! The proper mix of
oils, salt, stock, and corn is one that you will have to sadly learn on
your own as I have no way to either show you what I like or make you
even like what I like. Just try this for now, and then you can modify
to your own accord.
This looks perfect to me! Our homemade nixtamal is now a tasty masa for
You really don't have to make your own nixtamal if you don't want
to, you can also buy your nixtamal from a tortilleria, all nicely
ground even. You can use that plain ground nixtamal and add all the
stuff to turn it into masa as described above. But you can make
it all even more convenient by just buying your masa
"preparada" meaning its been prepared to be used in tamales. Often that
means its been mixed with lard, which is what I always want to avoid,
and the reason why I make my own using vegetarian alternatives. But
there's places that will even make you some masa preparada vegetarian
style, with no lard and using vegetable stock, like over at La Morenita Bakery.
If you give them a days notice, they can make you some. I'm going to
try some soon.
Coming next, the fillings!
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