If you don't know masa harina by name, you know its uses. The name "masa harina" translates as "dough flour." It's a finely ground hominy flour that serves as the base for tortilla, tamale and empanada dough. Masa harina is sold dried and powdered. It needs to be mixed with water, just as flour does with baked goods, but you have more latitude to substitute ingredients when making tortilla, tamale and empanada dough than when making bread dough and cake batters. Masa, another staple of Latin-American pantries, consists of masa harina and water, already mixed in the right proportion. Masa and simple kitchen conversions make a reliable masa harina substitute.
Portion 1 pound 6 ounces of masa for every 2 cups of masa harina called for in the corn tortilla or empanada recipe, using an ounce scale. Corn tortilla dough comprises a ratio of 2 cups of masa harina to 1.5 cups of water, which, when mixed, weighs 1 pound 6 ounces.
Portion 2 pounds 12 ounces of masa for every 3.5 cups of masa harina called for in the tamale dough recipe, using an ounce scale. Tamale dough comprises a ratio of 3.5 cups masa harina to 3 cups water, which, when mixed, weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces.
Substitute 11 ounces of masa for every 1 cup of masa harina in all other recipes that call for masa harina. You can also substitute an equal amount of blue harinilla by volume in all other recipes that call for masa harina.
- Harinilla is made the same way as masa harina, but uses blue corn instead. The corn kernals are also soaked in lime juice before grinding to loosen their husks.