Fresh Masa Corn Tortillas

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 12 tortillas
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1 1/2 pounds fresh yellow or white fine-grind corn masa for tortillas (see Cook's Note)

Kosher salt 

Vegetable oil 


Special equipment:
Tortilla press or smooth-bottomed 10-inch skillet
  1. Knead the masa, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/3 cup water in a large bowl with your hands until well incorporated and the masa is soft and pliable but doesn't stick to your hands, about 4 minutes. If the masa is still dry or crumbly, add a tablespoon or two more water and continue to mix.
  2. Cut and remove the zip top from a gallon freezer bag. Cut the two sides of the bag leaving the bottom intact so that the bag can open and close like a book. If using a tortilla press, trim the cut sides of the bag to fit the flat surface of the tortilla press. (If you don't have a tortilla press, you can use a smooth-bottomed 10-inch skillet to press and flatten the tortillas. Use the plastic in the same way you would use with the press except place it between the countertop or work surface and the bottom of the skillet.) 
  3. Divide the dough into 12 balls about 1/4 cup each (or 54g.). Arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet and keep covered with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use.  
  4. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet or large griddle over medium-high heat.  
  5. Place the prepared plastic bag inside the press so that the folded side of the bag is on the hinged side of the press. Working with one dough ball at a time, open the press and the top side of the bag and place a ball in the center of the press. Fold the bag over the ball and gently press, holding a steady, firm pressure for a few seconds to flatten the ball to a 7-inch round. Open the press and peel the top bag from the dough. Place the dough on your open palm and peel off the remaining plastic. 
  6. Brush the preheated pan with vegetable oil. Working with one at a time (unless using a large griddle), cook the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side, flipping 3 times, until just starting to brown in spots, 90 seconds total. Stack and wrap the tortillas in a clean kitchen towel and keep warm. Repeat pressing and cooking the remaining dough balls.  
  7. Serve the tortillas warm.  

Cook’s Note

You can make masa, dough made from ground corn, in two ways: instant and fresh. Fresh yields the best corn flavor and best texture, but you can use corn masa flour too, which is easier to find. You can find fresh masa at tortilla stores/factories, the international sections at larger stores or online. On a humid or rainy day, use less water in the masa to avoid sticking.

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