Corn tortillas were a staple in our fridge in Austin.  You can pick up a bag of 10 at HEB for less than a dollar, and they keep in the cheese drawer, and reheat nicely in a hot skillet or directly over the fire on Saturdays when you need breakfast tacos.  There is no supply of corn tortillas here in Penang.  You can get a version of a flour tortilla, even whole wheat ones, and sometimes you can find Old El Paso crispy corn taco shells at the import aisle, but no soft corn.  I miss them.  A lot.

So when I saw masa harina on the same import shelf last week (we got a whole Bob’s Red Mill section – woot!), I took a chance.  How hard could it be?  One whiff of that corny goodness upon cutting the bag open and I didn’t care if it took me all night, we were getting corn tortillas.  Luckily, like most things you can do yourself, it wasn’t so hard, and the end result had me thinking I might never go for a bag of premade ones again.  The texture was phenomenal, and was delivered to my belly in just 45 minutes after an internet search for a recipe.  We even had on hand my favorite soft corn taco toppers: Fantastic brand taco filling (TVP), avocado, grated carrot, salsa, and sprouts.  Yum!!

Homemade Corn Tortillas

  • 1 3/8 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 cup boiling water
  1. Use a spoon to combine masa harina, salt and boiling water in a medium sized bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes, the time it takes to have a post-pool shower with your toddler.
  2. Now that the mixture has cooled, use your hands to kneed the dough inside the bowl.  If it is all crumbly and not sticking together in a ball, add some more warm water.  If it is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a bit more flour.  I found I didn’t need to add anything, but its a little humid here.
  3. Heat a skillet over med-high heat.  I read cast iron is good, I only had a “eco” non-stick, which worked fine.
  4. Break off enough dough to roll into a golfball sized shape.  Form the ball and replace the damp towel over the dough.
  5. Now’s the time to roll it out.  I used a (imported, precious) ziploc freezer bag, top and sides cut off to make a longer sheet of plastic.  Put the ball between the sheets and roll to about 1/8″ thick.  You could use a tortilla press, or a rolling pin, I used a Nalgene bottle.
  6. Remove the tortilla from the plastic, and place on the hot skillet for 20 seconds.  Flip for 10 seconds.  Flip again – 10 more seconds, this time using a spoon to press on the middle of the tortilla so the sides puff up (this puts steam inside and gives it the great texture.  Keep flipping and pressing, 10 seconds a side until it shows some brown spots and has dried out.  I found each took about 60 seconds.
  7. Remove from heat and store wrapped in foil, wrapped in a kitchen towel.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Makes 10 7″ tortillas.  I kind of got a rhythm going with forming the ball and rolling out the next one in the 20 and 10 second times where no other action is required.
  8. If you somehow have leftovers (even Miles ate 3 of these), store in foil, in a ziploc bag.  Reheat in the skillet.