The June 2012 issue of Bon Appetit ran a multi-page spread on homemade tacos that made my mouth water. In addition to homemade corn tortillas, the recipes for fillings included homemade chorizo, shrimp in adobo, seared short ribs and roasted poblano chiles. But I really wanted to make the corn tortillas, since I have not been able to find any that are additive-free. The first challenge was finding the masa flour. It took some searching, but I found it at a health food store. The second challenge was finding a tortilla press. But my local kitchen store just got some (having been sold out in June, probably because of the Bon Appetit story). I was finally ready! And it was worth it. The dough comes together in a jiffy and the low-tech tortilla press is amazing. The results bear no resemblance to those taco shells that come in a box with a chemical-laden seasoning mix; homemade corn tortillas are pliable, tasty and perfect for a whole range of fillings. I made them with fried shrimp last week (a recipe from Real Simple magazine), but will be trying all kinds of things – including enchiladas – with them soon. I made half the recipe, which yielded nine four-inch tortillas.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The ingredients to check in the filling are the beans (PC Blue Menu brand black beans are additive-free), the sour cream (light sour cream often contains chemicals) and the hot sauce. I used Tabasco original brand.

This is the masa flour I used for the dough

The dough is very easy to make - it should be fairly dry

Place a heaping tablespoon of dough in press lined with plastic wrap or a freezer bag cut into two circles the size of the press

This press makes four-inch tortillas

Brush with oil and cook for 1-3 minutes on one side

Turn and cook for a few seconds on the other side

Dredge and fry up some shrimp

Shrimp tacos with fresh corn tortillas


For tacos

2 cups (or more) masa (corn tortilla mix; preferably Maseca brand)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Vegetable oil (for brushing)

For filling

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

4 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated

2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 pound peeled and deveined small shrimp

1 large egg white, beaten

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cornmeal

8 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed

Cut up avocado, salsa, cilantro, hot sauce, sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving


For tacos

Whisk masa and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water; knead in bowl until dough forms. The dough should feel firm and springy and look slightly dry (think Play-Doh). Add more water by tablespoonfuls if too crumbly; add a little more masa if too wet.

Measure 1 heaping Tbsp. dough and roll into a ball. Flatten on a tortilla press lined with a plastic bag. If tortilla crumbles, dough is too dry (add more water); if it sticks to the plastic, dough is too wet (add more masa). Repeat, pressing out 2 more tortillas. Don’t press them too thin, or they will stick.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; lightly brush with oil. Cook 2–3 tortillas until charred in spots and edges start to curl, 1–2 minutes. Turn; cook through, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a kitchen towel; fold over to keep warm. Repeat, in batches, with remaining dough.

For filling

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallion whites and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans, ¼ cup water, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the scallion greens.

In a shallow bowl, toss the shrimp with the egg white. In a second shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Heat the remaining ½ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve in the tortillas with the avocado, salsa, cilantro, hot sauce, sour cream, and lime wedges, alongside the beans.

From the June 2012 issue of Bon Appetit and from Real Simple magazine