Marco's Fish Wrapped in Hoja Santa

Masa means dough. This recipe can also be used as a base to make tortillas or tamales.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 45 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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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)

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. To deep-fry the masa dumplings, heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.