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Which is the Best Masa Harina Substitute?

Masa Harina is a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, particularly to make soups, corn tortillas and tamales. This fine and powdery substance is a corn meal product and is the flour used to make Mexican dishes. It is ground from hominy, which is corn that is boiled in water and lye or lime — calcium hydroxide — to remove the kernel from the hull.

It can be pretty cumbersome to make Masa Harina, so if you’re looking for a substitute for it, you’re going to save a lot of time, for sure. In certain cases, you may have to sacrifice texture for taste.

How Masa Harina is made

After corn has been dried, cooked in water and slaked lime, ground and dried once more, you get Masa Harina. When water is added to this powder, you get a dough or “masa” from which corn tortillas are made. Here’s a video on how to make Masa Harina:

 

Take a look at the best pasta makers here.

Masa Harina Substitutes

There are food experts who will tell you that there can never be any substitute for Masa Harina. But if you’re desperate for something when you’re in the midst of cooking, you need to know what you can use. For those moments, here is a list of substitutes for Masa Harina:

  1. Fresh Masa: This is a corn dough that was used to make Masa Harina in the olden days. First, the dough is dried completely and then ground to make Masa Harina corn flour. Corn kernels, dried completely, are boiled in water together with lime which breaks the corn kernel to form hominy. This makes the corn easily digestible.

Though fresh Masa is difficult to source, yet it is better than Masa Harina to make tortillas and tamales. To make tamales, it’s best to go with coarse Masa, while corn tortillas are best made with finely ground Masa. Since fresh Masa is already in dough form, all you need do is to roll it out and cook, while Masa Harina needs to be dried and then made a dough of.

  1. Raw Polenta: A dish from northern Italy, this Masa Harina substitute resembles yellow porridge or grits. Today, polenta is made with ground cornmeal and is the perfect substitute for Masa Harina. If you buy dry finely ground polenta. There are times when you can’t find dry polenta but you see it in a tube. Use the latter as a thickening agent for your dish.
  2. Ground-up Corn Tortillas: Made from Masa Harina, corn tortillas are another great substitute for Masa Harina. To the mix, all you need do is to add some kosher salt and hot water. Generally, ground-up corn tortillas are used only as soup thickeners. To get the best out of this product, go in for the baked version rather than the fried. You can either crumble the chips in your hand or put them through a food processor to get a fine consistency.
  3. Ground Hominy: Hominy is the chief ingredient in Masa Harina as also in polenta and the Mexican drink, atole. It is made of corn kernels and can also be eaten whole. If you want to use this ingredient as a Masa Harina substitute, grind the corn in a food processor. To buy hominy, go to any Latin American grocery store.
  4. Cornmeal: It’s not necessary that you use Masa Harina to make corn tortillas. You can also use it to make plain cornmeal. You’ll find that no matter how much you grind cornmeal, it will always be coarser than finely-ground Masa Harina. So, mix it with all-purpose flour so that you get a texture that is quite like conventional Masa Harina, as used to make corn tortillas. To make two cups of Masa Harina, use cornmeal and all-purpose flour in the ratio of 2/3: 1 1/3. As you probably know, lime isn’t used to boil with ground cornmeal, so you can add a little into the dough, if you wish.
  5. Cornstarch: Often, Masa Harina is added to soups for thickening, including soups like chicken tortilla and chilli. First, a slurry is made of Masa Harina and cold water and gently stirred into the soup to let it thicken and simmer. If you run out of Masa Harina and your soup is way too thin, substitute the Harina for cornstarch, adding a little at a time until you get the desired consistency. Since cornstarch has a fine texture, your soup won’t look or taste gritty.
  6. Arrowroot Powder: This is a kind of starch that comes from the arrowroot plant’s root. As you would do with cornstarch, with this Masa Harina substitute too you need to make a slurry of one part of the powder and another of wine, water or any other liquid and thicken your sauce, soup or jam.

Arrowroot is preferred because its extraction process is very organic and therefore it does not call for the use of harsh chemicals. There are also fewer chances of it having genetically modified ingredients. A point to be noted is that arrowroot should never be combined with dairy products or it will form an ugly mix.

  1. Grits: Here’s a Masa Harina substitute that’s made from hominy, so once again this one too’s treated with lime. Apart from fresh Masa Harina, grits are the closest substitutes to this fine flour. However, they are far coarser than coarsely-ground Masa that’s used to make tamales. They may not be perfect substitutes for Masa Harina, still you can powder them in a food processor and get a texture similar to that of Masa Harina.
  2. Fresh Masa Preparada: Fresh corn masa is also called Masa Preparada. It is a dough made using freshly ground hominy, instead of Masa Harina flour. You can also buy smoothly prepared Masa Preparada which comes with a short shelf life.

Conclusion

These substitutes to Masa Harina are so many and so varied in their uses that any one of them can be of immense value to you in the kitchen. To use them, first experiment using a small quantity of it and improvise as you go along. This way, you can never go wrong with these substitutes.

  • February 12, 2018
  • Food

What To Serve With Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimps are one of the most common starters for the parties. But confusion seeps in when you don’t know what to serve with coconut shrimp? Well, the simple answer is that you can choose to serve it as innovatively as you wish. Perhaps, you can serve it as a finger food, with or without side dishes. Else, you can serve it with a dip, side dish or drink.

As finger food: To serve it as finger food, you would need to bread it with coconut flakes, egg and breadcrumbs and then bake it or deep fry it for a crispy and crunchy taste. Thanks to the coconut flavour, your coconut shrimp will taste a little sweet. Eat it as it is or make a dip or side dish to go with it.

With a dip: Your coconut shrimp needs to be dipped into a sauce for that extra tingly taste. You can try making a sweet or a savoury dip. Here are some options: Mix together lemon and finely chopped mangoes or serve it with lime or chilli sauce. For a creamy texture, go with a buttermilk dressing.

Yet another option is pineapple salsa adds up. Serve it with a light mustard and honey sauce and make it creamy and rich. To bring an Asian flavour to your table, add lime juice, or ginger-garlic with soy sauce. Marmalade dipping sauce, sweet and sour sauce, tartar sauce, red curry sauce, duck sauce, apricot sauce or a salad with citrus fruit segments.

With drinks: Fortunately, there are certain drinks like tropical ones that go well with coconut shrimp. These include Pina Colada, daiquiris and mojitos and are just right for adults. Children could be given non-alcoholic drinks like flavoured juices, fruit smoothies, ice teas and skewer orange slices. These could be made more attractive with paper cocktail umbrellas.

With a side dish: You can pair coconut shrimp with a light side dish because a heavy one will subdue its natural taste. The flavour of coconut shrimp may also be undermined by creamy side dishes, so be wary of them. To bring out the fish’s natural flavour, go with a fresh green salad with grilled veggies or Caesar dressing and seasoning mix. Top it with grilled pineapple or just a generous scoop of ice cream.

Here are some more side dishes to serve with coconut shrimp for you to consider:

  1. Pasta: Rice-shaped pasta, cooked in onion, chicken soup, mushrooms, onion and garlic work well with coconut shrimp. Cream sauce added to this increases the overall taste. Macaroni, mayo, chopped celery and pimento also taste delicious. If you want to stay simple, choose Mac and cheese or add crumbled bacon and spring onions.
  2. Rice: For a main dish, tropical rice with coconut shrimp and garnished lemon wedges go wonderfully well. Alternatively, coconut shrimp with plain white rice or improve the taste by adding tomatoes, herbs spices and nuts.

With risotto, you get a creamy texture, but with grass grain or wild grass, the dish only looks more appealing. Add mushrooms and shallots, if you prefer.

  1. Potato: As a side dish to coconut shrimp, you can always have French fries or even baked potatoes. To bring out the taste of the coconut shrimp, you might like to add some cheddar cheese, green onions, bacon or sour cream. Toss the French fries in oregano, thyme or basil, garlic salt or onion.

You can also serve cheesy potatoes, hash browns, mashed potatoes or potato salad. With hash browns, serve sour cream, cheddar cheese or cream of mushroom soup.

  1. Vegetables: With vegetables, you can’t go wrong. Serve them hot or cold, fresh or frozen, they make a healthy option with your coconut shrimp. Make your own salad using tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet onion and salad dressing. Coleslaw is another good option.

Conclusion

If none of the above are appealing enough, use your imagination and love for cooking and come up with something unusual. We’re sure your guests will love whatever you serve with coconut shrimp.

  • January 31, 2018
  • Food
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What Goes With Crab Cakes?

If you love seafood and are looking for something different, why not try crab cakes? A typically American dish, crab cakes can be made into patties with crab meat, mayonnaise, seasoning, bread crumbs and eggs. You may add in veggies or not.

You can have them for any meal–breakfast, lunch or dinner or serve them at a party, event or a company meeting. They are absolutely delicious and can be teamed up with a variety of side dishes, sauces and salads. Let’s see what goes with crab cakes best:

What goes with crab cakes?

There are a number of dishes on the side that go with crab cakes. Here are the most popular among them:

Crab cakes for breakfast:

If you prefer to start your day with crab cakes, you do have some exciting options as accompaniments. For instance, you could team up your crab cakes with Eggs Benedict, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, or with an over easy egg and cornmeal pancake. No matter which of these you choose, your breakfast is going to give you a head start to a hectic day.

Crab cakes for lunch:

If you like digging into crab cakes over lunch, why not choose interesting dishes on the side? If you’re thinking about what goes with crab cakes, choose from any of the alternatives given below and have a great lunch.

  1. Coleslaw: Americans prefer to eat coleslaw with crab cakes for its refreshing and mild taste and is a perfect foil to the spicy taste of crab cakes.
  2. Fresh vegetables: Make a fresh salad that can bring down the spicy flavour of crab cakes. Try spinach, broccoli or beans or any veggies of your choice.
  3. Asparagus and tomatoes: Yet another healthy option, asparagus and tomatoes provide you with health benefits and make your dish very colourful and appealing.
  4. Bread rolls: If you have no time before your guests can arrive, just serve bread rolls on the side. They will go complement your crab cakes. You can also make garlic bread or biscuits, if you wish.
  5. Jalapeno pepper: To add a little freshness to your dish, add jalapeno pepper on the side. Don’t go in for the fiery red ones, instead choose the green and striped that aren’t as hot.
  6. French fries: You can add French fries to your crab cake and make it a burger meal. You do this by putting the cake in a bun, as if the cake were a patty. Now, add some sauce to it and voila! you have a crab cake burger.
  7. Horseradish cream: Serve horseradish cream with crab cakes for a good crunch and punch. Make punch with sour cream, horseradish and mayonnaise.
  8. Potato salad: If you have crisp crab cakes, potato salad would be great for an accompaniment. Make the salad creamy so that it blends well with the crab cake.
  9. Over corn soup: You can either make a sweet and creamy pureed corn soup or you can top the soup with crisp crab cakes.
  10. Veggies: If you don’t know what goes with crab cakes, don’t worry. You can never go wrong with vegetables, so choose colourful veggies like summer squash and zucchini. Cut them into strips and and saute them with garlic and onions. Alternatively, you can team them up with Alfredo noodles.

Crab cakes for dinner:

Perhaps, you want to have a quiet dinner with family or are having some friends over. Choose from any of these accompaniments to go best with your crab cakes:

  1. Twice-baked potato and grilled asparagus: This is a great combination, but in the absence of asparagus, why not add some goat cheese, arugula, roasted grape tomatoes and red onions?
  2. Grilled corn, mango and pineapple: Add a green salad with a light dressing or a salsa along with grilled corn, mango and pineapple and some spicy remoulade on the side.
  3. Couscous: Don’t just add couscous as an accompaniment, but a good seasoning and olive oil too.
  4. Rice: Choose whether you want white or brown rice and complement your crab cakes with it. Or, have a rice jambalaya on the side and have cheesy scalloped potatoes too.
  5. Stuffed mushrooms, penne and vodka sauce: To these ingredients, add baked mac and cheese and garlic spaghetti and enjoy the result.

Crab cakes for dessert:

Serve crab cakes for dessert along with a berry pie, creme brule, custard or tapioca pudding, mixed fruit or a light cake.

Sauces that go well with crab cakes

You aren’t restricted to the above accompaniments when you serve crab cakes, but there are a few sauces too that complement crab cakes well. Here they are:

  1. Tartar sauce and cocktail sauce: These are everyone’s choice of sauces to go with crab cakes. Here are some others too.
  2. Lemon-herb sauce: Don’t just mix lemon and herbs to make a delicious crab cake sauce. Go the whole hog by adding fresh parsley, chives, thyme, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
  3. Chipotle mayo: Looking for something hot and spicy? Then, this is the right one for you. Use smoked and dried jalapeños and add to it a sweet and interesting puree of garlic, tomato and vinegar, apart from a few other spices.
  4. Mango puree: Here’s a sauce that comes to you from Asian cuisine. Sweet and spicy, it is made with ripe mangoes, pureed with oil and chilli sauce and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  5. Smoky Onion Remoulade: Made with smoked and charred onions, the sauce has smoked salt too. The perfect accompaniment to crab cakes.
  6. Russian Dressing: This dressing is placed on a slice of toast, with sliced tomato and cold crab.
  7. Roasted Pepper Coulis: If you don’t want any creamy accompaniment to crab cakes, how about a tangy and roasted red pepper sauce? It’s great-tasting and certainly different. 

Conclusion

Don’t ever think you’d be stuck for accompaniments when serving crab cakes. You can find any number of interesting options to eat it with, or just use your imagination. You’re sure to come up with something great.

  • January 9, 2018
  • Food