Corn Masa Boats with Tilapia in a Yucatecan Pumpkin Sauce (what else would it be??)

There is a very special time of year on TV that I look forward to all year long.  No, its not the Emmy’s or the Grammy’s or the Superbowl.


Ewwwwwww..the Superbowl.

DSC_0538-(2) It’s Shark Week. This year, brought to you by Rob Lowe. Wait, what???DSC_0544-(2)This dish is like human chum. Actually that sounds horrible. Its way better than that.


These boats are made from masa corn and filled with an amazing pumpkin seed sauce.


One bite and you’ll agree. You’re gonna need a bigger boat.


Corn Masa Boats with tilapia in a Yucatecan Pumpkin Sauce (what else would it be??)

  • 1½ cups pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • ½ bunch cilantro, thick stems discarded
  • 2 cups chicken stock, fish stock or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound tilapia or mahimahi
  • 12 Chalupas
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • Corn Masa Boats
  • 1 heaping cup masa harina
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • corn oil, for frying
  1. In a dry cast iron pan, spread the pepitas in a single layer and toast over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching, for about 3 minutes or until aromatic and the seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat and reserve 2 tablespoons of the toasted seeds for garnish.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the remaining pepitas chiles, onions, garlic and ½ bunch of cilantro. With the motor running, slowly add the broth (if you add too quickly, the seeds wont grind up completely) to form a smooth paste with the consistency of heavy cream.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Transfer the pumpkin paste to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion is cooked.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until the cream is heated through and the sauce is a uniform pale green and the consistency of heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
  5. In a nonstick skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the fish and sear for about 3 minutes on each side or until it is cooked through and flakes easily when prodded with a fork. Remove the fish from the pan and flake into 1 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Arrange masa boats on a platter. Spoon a tablespoon of the pumpkin seed sauce into the center of each boat. Top evenly with the fish and more sauce. (You will have sauce left over; keeps well for 5 days). Sprinkle the boats with reserved pumpkin seeds and the chopped cilantro. Serve right away.
  7. To make the boats:
  8. In a large bowl, stir together the masa harina and salt. Slowly add water, working it into the flour with your hands to form a dough. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes or until moist and smooth but not sticky. If the dough seems too dry, moisten your hands with water and knead in the dampness. If it seems too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and knead until smooth.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Form each ball into a disk about ½ inch thick.
  10. Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, place the disks on the hot pan and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side or until a golden crust forms on all sides. As you remove the disks from the pan, pinch the edges of each one to create a rim about ⅓ inch high. Pinch the center to lift and thin the middle of each boat.
  11. Set the boats on a plate to cool and then cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  12. In a skillet, pour the oil to a depth of about ½ inch and heat over medium-high heat until a small piece of the dough dropped in the oil sizzles on contact. Gently fry the boats turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side or until crisp and lightly golden. Do not brown them or they will toughen. Carefully lift them from the oil, drain on paper towels and fill immediately.
  13. These boats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Before serving, reheat in a dry skillet or griddle over medium heat.


  1. mcmannjack says:

    Tilapia : )

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