I'm in South America at the moment and want to make corn tortillas. I don't have access to masa harina, but I can get polenta, P.A.N, and arepa flour (which I think is basically the same thing as P.A.N?) With the understanding that the taste won't be exactly the same, can I use any one of these, or a combination, to get a decent approximation of a corn tortilla?
You cannot make tortillas from arepa flour or from polenta. In both cases, no amount of treatment of the grain will result in the tortilla holding together when you remove it from the press. I did some searching to see if you can nixtamalize the polenta yourself, and then grind it finer, but the answer appears to be no.
So, you have two reasonable workarounds:
- If you're in South America, you should be able to find any number of high-starch whole corn kernels, either on the cob or (better) dried. You can nixtamalize and grind these into masa yourself, and it'll be even better than masa harina.
- Make wheat flour tortillas instead, or even part-wheat, part-PAN for some cornmeal flavor