Masa Beyond the Tortilla: Inventive Recipes Behind the Ingredient’s Third Wave
In an inspiring new book dedicated to masa, Jorge Gaviria is striving to deepen our understanding of the ingredient.
“What makes the perfect masa?” This is the question posed at the start of the introduction to Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple, the first cookbook from Jorge Gaviria, founder of Masienda, a purveyor of masa and masa harina for restaurants across the West and beyond. You can find tortillas made with Masienda products at star chef Enrique Olvera’s Damian in Los Angeles, Oakland’s standout Chicano heritage hotspot Bombera, and other top eateries.
But that wasn’t always the case. Gaviria first set out to find an answer to the perfect masa question in 2014, which led him to farms throughout Oaxaca in Mexico. There he tasted rare heirloom corn grown for generations by local farmers. Their exceptional crops became the foundation for the masa now gracing the tables of some of the finest restaurants in the world. For Masa, Gaviria consulted chefs and friends to compile the book’s comprehensive chapters that serve as more than a home for simple recipes.
“The recipes are broken up into three sections,” Gaviria tells us. “The first section is really foundational recipes of masa that will also leave you without any further questions. That was really informed by my own process, conversations I’ve had, and the things I’ve learned.”
The second section is meant to document all of the ways masa is used across the world. The third section of the book highlights modern recipes, which Gaviria explains are representative of “the third-wave movement around masa and a way to think about it without cultural confines.”
To help expand our understanding of how masa can be used in the kitchen, we excerpted a few that highlight the ingredient’s versatility. With these recipes as a blueprint to expand your use of masa at home, you can start to experiment with it in new ways. Order a bag of masa harina from masienda.com and you’re sure to taste a level of quality that will, as Gaviria says, get you “hooked for life.”