Masa means dough. This recipe can also be used as a base to make tortillas or tamales.
Recipe courtesy of Chuck Hughes
Episode: Mexico City
Marco's Fish Wrapped in Hoja Santa
45 min
30 min
4 servings
45 min
30 min
4 servings


Huitlacoche Masa Dumplings (Corn Mushroom Dumplings): 
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml canola oil
  • 2 cups/500 ml chopped huitlacoche (corn mushroom)
  • 1 leek, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A bunch of epazote, chopped (or substitute with tarragon or a mix of herbs like cilantro, parsley and chives) 
Masa Bolitas (Small Dough Balls):
  • 2 cups/500 ml very fine corn flour (masa harina)
  • 1 teaspoon/5 ml of salt
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml crumbled Chiapas cheese 
  • 4 Jack fish fillets, or any white firm-flesh fish you like (about 2 pounds/1 kg)
  • 4 hoja santa leaves, or banana leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plantain Salsa:
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml butter
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml canola oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 leek, chopped 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 plantain banana, cut in chunks 
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml bonito flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2 ml whole allspice 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil, for deep frying 
  • Chia seeds, for garnish, optional
  • Toasted macadamia nuts, for garnish


For the huitlacoche masa dumplings: In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the huitlacoche and leeks, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the epazote. Set aside.

For the masa bolitas: In a bowl, mix the corn flour, salt and 1 1/2 cups/ 375 ml water. Knead to form your dough. 

Pinch off a golf ball-size piece of dough and press the center to form a cavity. Stuff it with some of the mushroom mixture and add some cheese. Enclose the stuffing with the masa and reshape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to deep-fry. 

For the plantain salsa: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the canola oil. Add the garlic, leeks and onions, and saute until translucent. Add the plantain bananas and continue sauteing, about 5 minutes. Add the bonito flakes and allspice, and continue sauteing, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the recipient of the food processor and reduce into a coarse puree, keeping some texture to it. Add a little water if too thick. Season with salt and pepper. 

For the fish: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Wrap the fish with the hoja santa leaves. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes. Set aside. 

To deep-fry the masa dumplings, heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 

Deep-fry the dumplings until nice and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking tray covered with paper towels to drain excess oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

To assemble the plate, add a spoonful of the plaintain salsa on a plate, lay a piece of fish on the salsa and top with 2 or 3 masa dumplings. Garnish with chia seeds if using and toasted macadamia nuts.

Cook's Note

Chiapas cheese is a sharp cheese that tastes like aged Cheddar. You can substitute it with Cheddar cheese or any other favorite cheese.

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