How to Make Mexican Corn Tortillas, Part 1

Epicurious's Around the World in 80 Dishes takes you to Mexico, with a demonstration of authentic Tortillas de Maiz (Corn Tortillas), prepared by Chef Iliana de la Vega of The Culinary Institute of America.

Released on 4/9/2009

Credits

Starring: Iliana de la Vega and Tanya Steel

Transcript

00:00
(jazzy trance music)
00:05
(classical music)
00:11
Hi, I'm Tanya Steel from epicurious.com.
00:13
And you're watching Around the World in 80 Dishes.
00:17
Today we're making tortillas from Mexico
00:19
with Chef Iliana de la Vega.
00:21
Hi, hello.
00:22
How are you?
00:23
Fine, thank you, Tanya, thanks for having me here.
00:24
Oh my gosh, I'm so excited, because tortillas
00:27
are obviously such an important essential dish
00:30
from not just Mexico, but from all over Latin America,
00:34
but particularly Mexico.
00:35
And it's actually very simple.
00:36
It is very simple.
00:37
Well by now, when you have all the process done,
00:39
we have the masa already, then it's the easiest thing
00:42
you ever get.
00:43
Wow. Okay.
00:44
So then, maybe I'm going to do this all the time.
00:45
Alright. Show me.
00:46
Okay, so we have the masa here.
00:48
And masa?
00:49
It's corn. It's a corn product. It has been mixed.
00:52
The dried corn has been mixed with limestone and water.
00:56
And then, you cook it for a little while,
01:00
and then let it rest over night, soaking in that mixture.
01:03
And that makes a chemical reaction in the corn
01:04
that actually makes it nutritious.
01:06
And easy to digest.
01:07
Oh.
01:08
So it develops amino acids and many other things.
01:10
So the ancient people from Mexico were,
01:12
I mean, really clever.
01:14
They were brilliant, yes.
01:15
To make all this up, and it's a very nutritious thing,
01:18
that we Mexicans, we love.
01:19
It's delicious and it's also nutritious.
01:21
But you can buy this masa in the supermarket.
01:23
That's right.
01:24
So this is the dehydrated one, after it's ground,
01:28
then they just dry it out.
01:29
[Tanya] I see.
01:30
[Iliana] So we need to re-hydrate it now.
01:32
So we'll add some water.
01:33
And this is something you have to feel.
01:35
If the weather is dry, you may need a little bit more water.
01:38
Or less water, or you just have to feel it.
01:41
Right. So it's all about the texture,
01:43
that you just learn what's correct.
01:45
That's right.
01:46
[Tanya] You're basically making a wet dough?
01:48
Yeah, first, you wet it, but it's dry.
01:51
You know, it sucked it up, completely.
01:53
Alright? So it's fun. So, feel like a kid again.
01:56
And play. And you have to have the texture like a Play Doh.
02:01
Okay.
02:02
Really go back to the childhood.
02:03
[Tanya] Now I know what to look for. Okay.
02:05
Play Doh makes sense.
02:06
[Iliana] So this needs, obviously,
02:08
a little bit more water, right?
02:10
So I have a little bit more.
02:11
[Tanya] The emergency water.
02:14
[Iliana] It just happens sometimes,
02:16
and we may need a little bit more.
02:17
I don't know, but we have to feel it.
02:20
So you play with it.
02:22
And you know, if you don't work with it,
02:25
almost right away, you have to let it rest for five
02:28
or ten minutes, before you make the tortillas actually.
02:30
But if you feel in that time that it gets dry,
02:33
you add a little bit more, and knead it more.
02:35
So unlike bread, it really is just a dough
02:39
that you let rest for just a few minutes.
02:40
Just for a few minutes.
02:41
It won't rise. It won't do anything like that.
02:44
And obviously, if you add too much,
02:46
then you add a little bit of the masa again.
02:50
So just play around with it a little bit.
02:53
[Tanya] Now could you actually make this ahead of time,
02:55
put it in the refrigerator and then the next day?
02:57
And then the next day, you can do it.
02:59
Don't close it tight.
03:00
Just leave it a little bit of air, open,
03:02
so it won't smell bad.
03:04
It won't get rancid or anything.
03:06
The plastic covering?
03:07
Alright, this feels kind of right.
03:10
[Tanya] May I feel it?
03:11
[Iliana] Yes, of course.
03:12
[Tanya] Ooh, that feels fun.
03:13
Okay, you need to knead it a little bit,
03:16
you know, probably like five minutes.
03:17
Five minutes?
03:18
Or, if you have a big mixer, you know, like a stand mixer,
03:21
do it over there, and it will be faster.
03:22
So either way you can go.
03:23
[Tanya] Instead of kneading this for five minutes,
03:25
you've already got a bowl right there.
03:27
That's right. (laughter) Here we go.
03:30
So this is ready. So feel it.
03:32
[Tanya] I see. So it's kind of hard.
03:35
[Iliana] But as soon as you get into it,
03:38
you know, like now feel it.
03:40
Right, okay.
03:42
Okay, so the masa is ready.
03:43
From here, you can make millions of things.
03:46
You know, sopas, tostadas, any other thing.
03:49
Tortillas for making tacos, so this is the most flexible
03:51
dough you can get, and it's an edible dough,
03:54
which is fun.
03:55
You are speaking my language, I must say. Tortillas.
03:57
Alright good.
03:57
Tortillas. The whole thing just sounds so good.
04:00
So Tanya, what about if you help me make some bowls.
04:03
Take a little bit of masa. The size, it doesn't matter.
04:06
Okay.
04:08
And it doesn't matter either if, you know,
04:09
the first ones, won't be as pretty as they should.
04:13
But anyway, you keep working until you get to perfection.
04:15
Okay.
04:27
(jazzy trance music)