Masa Fantasies: Oaxacan-inspired Corn Love
Breakfast at Rancho Gordo In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Vegetarian>Vegan
Hoja santa (or sometimes Yierba Santa) (Piper auritum) is a delicious leaf used throughout much of Mexico for flavor and as a wrapping. I've had very little luck growing it at home, which has been frustrating as I've heard over and over that's invasive! Well, this year they decided they were happy and I have a nice crop of hoja santa leaves to play with. In Oaxaca, where this plant is used a lot, they make a delicious little masa snack called tetela. I wasn't sure about how to make them but I did steal the technique and the results were great. You can make these without just about anything that inspires you. I liked the fact that the leaf helped block the bean juices from permeating into the wet masa. Diana Kennedy came up with the phrase "masa fantasies" to cover the hundreds of snacks and treats you can make with masa. The same item may have a different name in other parts of Mexico but they all have a certain creativity in common and they all tend to be delicious. The secret is to take your time and let the weight of the tortilla do the work for you. This filling was simply Sangre de Toro beans (I'm loving these more and more) and a few ripped hoja santa leaves. After all three sides are done, you can wet the seam and try and make it seamless, but I didn't care that much. You just heat them up on a medium skillet or comal. My next experiment would involve deep frying them. Or maybe you can and report back. Remember, the filling could beans and cheese, cheese and salsa, just about anything. I've seen Oaxacans scramble eggs on yierba santa leaves on clay comales. They would use the leaf as almost a non-stick pan and then scramble the leaf into the eggs right before serving. I've also seen them press the leaf right into the masa and then toast both sides. I love these when lightly toasted as they have a very mild, almost minty flavor. When the leaves are fresh, it's somewhere between anis and root beer that you taste. This last snack I just pressed the leaf into the masa to make a tortilla that I toasted on both sides before adding scrambled eggs and Sangre de Toro beans and Felicidad hot sauce.