Potato Masa Torpedos/Molotes


Rick Bayless again comes to the rescue providing interesting foods. He does pretty dang well at trying to give the real story of these foods, and the love of Mexico comes through in his writings. This provides good reading and happy thoughts on these chilly evenings.


Masa Harina and Fresh Masa

Fresh masa is mashed or ground hominy—corn that has been soaked in lye (sodium hydroxide) or lime (calcium hydroxide) which dissolves the hull and releases calcium and niacin to be more easily assimilated by our digestive tracts.

Masa Harina is the ground masa that has been dried and is the consistency of fine flour.

I found some of my home-nixtamalized hominy hiding in the freezer so I pureed it into a fresh masa for the batter. This probably gave me better flavor, but I think using dry Masa Harina may give you more wet/dry control with the batter.  If you are using fresh masa/hominy it would be good to have Masa Harina (or rice flour) on hand for coating the torpedos before frying.



The recipe calls for Queso Fresco—a creamy, bright, salty-tangy fresh cheese, or a mild Farmer’s Cheese. I love Queso Fresco, but I didn’t feel like driving to find it so mixed ricotta with feta cheeses for a comparable substitute. I also tried out an habanero cheese in a couple of these for a little excitement.


The salt content of the recipe will depend on how much salt is in the cheese and how much salt is in the potato cooking water. Taste and decide.


These held together much better than my attempt at the Estonian Zeppelins, I’m guessing because of the masa flour and that all of these potatoes have been cooked instead of using some portion of raw potatoes.




You can see the torpedos on the left are mushier—these were the first batch in the fry pan that turned mushy and spread out when heated. The ones on the right were rolled in a mixture of masa harina and rice flour before frying and that seemed to help them hold their shape.

You can also use this batter to make sopes or gorditas—cute, fat tortillas.




Masa Torpedos/Molotes adapted from Rick Bayless’s ‘Mexican Kitchen’

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes for potatoes, 20-30 minutes for frying


Rinse in cold water, then boil in salted water until tender:

2 medium-large Potatoes, peeled and quartered

Remove from heat when cooked, drain and let cool. 


For the Masa

If you using fresh Masa you will need 2 cups, drained.

If using Masa Harina mix together in a bowl:

1 3/4 cup Masa Harina

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons Hot Water

Stir until smooth and set aside.


Crumble into a food processor:

1/3 – 1/2 cup Cheese—-Mexican Queso Fresco, or pressed salted Farmer’s Cheese, or my addition was Feta mixed with Ricotta  (3/4 pound more will be needed for filling)

Pulse chop to break up the cheese.

Add the potato and pulse chop until smooth and mixed. 

Crumble the masa (the reconstituted or fresh/drained) into the processor and pulse chop until combined. If too stiff add water one tablespoon at a time. If too sticky add a small bit of dry masa harina. 

Taste and add as needed:

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Taste as you go—the amount of salt will depend on the saltiness of the cheese and the potato-cooking water. 


Turn oven on low and have a towel lined plate ready. 

Cut into sticks, around 2 inches long and 1/2 inch square.

3/4 pound Cheese—Mexican Queso Fresco, Muenster, or pressed salted Farmer’s Cheese (or my addition was Feta mixed with Ricotta)

Roll the masa into 20-24 balls. Then form each ball into a pressed circle, lay the stick of cheese in the center, and fold the sides and ends around pressing it together to fully cover and seal the cheese. Repeat with all of the masa balls, placing them on a plate and covering with a towel or plastic wrap. At this point they can be refrigerated for a few hours before frying, if needed. 



Heat to a medium-high heat in a heavy skillet: 

Avocado Oil, or your favorite oil for frying to a depth of around 1/2 – 1 inch

My notes: Rick says 1 inch to deep fry, I liked less because the fell apart when I tried to deep fry them. 

Another note: My first few molotes became mushy while frying and some split, exposing the cheese, so I added the next step.

Before frying, roll the torpedo-molotes in:

Masa Harina or Rice Flour

Fry a few of the molotes at a time, turning, until ‘golden and crusty’. Place on the towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven.

Drizzle with salsa and cilantro and serve warm, or eat leftovers for breakfast the the next day!


Try other fillings:

  • Other cheeses
  • Chicharrón
  • Pulled or Shredded Pork
  • Bacon
  • Greens and Garlic–sautéed and squeezed dry
  • Picadillo 




Coming home last year from our North Woods trek I found this adorable pair of Kari Traa long underwear on sale and it’s finally time to break them out. I think fun base layers that you love are part of the secret to loving winter!

More coming soon about this year’s snowy adventures…



“For all that has been, 

Thank you.

For all that is to come,



~Dag Hammarskjold





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