Sweet Corn Tomalito

Last Saturday we had quite a day. Not only was it Karolyn's birthday but it was, to our joy and surprise, the announcement of her engagement to Kevin. As Joey says, we now have Kevolyn! Wow! I am certainly thrilled! I think we are all!

Since this was a potluck barbecue I wanted to bring something special. Of course, because it was Karolyn's birthday, but also because who doesn't want to bring a yummy dish to a potluck?!! Honestly, doesn't it feel great to have the dish that everyone gobbles up while that jello concoction just sits there? That is exactly why I always make Sweet Corn Tomalito for every potluck I go to. You know, that yummilicious corn thing you get a spoonful of at Chevy's - the one you always hope your dining partner won't eat so you can have it? This is it and I promise you, it will be a hit. It always is. BUT, if you intend to be at a party that I am going to and you dare bring this you are in serious trouble. :-) This is MY potluck specialty inspired from the cookbook I stole from Karolyn.

So, while this isn't hard to make, it's just a bit involved. I think I kind of have it down, so I am delighted to share my tips with you. I do promise this is worth the time and effort.


  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels - about 8 ears (or frozen and thawed corn, but boo!)
  • 1 cup milk divided (3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup masa (fresh or prepared - see notes)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 250°.
  2. Remove corn kernels from cob (see note below for tips)
  3. Take 3 cups of the corn kernals and 3/4 cup milk and blend in blender or food processor until smooth. Place in bowl.
  4. Prepare masa, if using instant, according to directions (see note below)
  5. Place the butter, masa, and sugar in the blender or food processor and blend until light and fluffy. (About 2 - 3 minutes)
  6. Add the masa mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 3 cups corn kernals, to the pureed corn and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  8. Put the pan into a large roasting pan. (see note below)
  9. Pour cool water into the roasting pan until it reaches about 3/4 to 1 inch up the outside of the 9 x 13 pan.
  10. Bake for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until the mixture reaches 175° on an instant read thermometer. (Time really varies - check it at about 1 hour and 45 minutes. For me it always takes much longer.)
  11. Serve hot or let cool and take to your potluck. Reheat at 350°, covered for about 20 minutes.

Removing corn kernels from the cob has always been a challenge until I figured it out!
  • Take a large mixing bowl and place a small dessert bowl in the middle upside down.
  • Cut the corn flat on one end, or much easier, buy the corn cobs that are already husked and cut. EASY!
  • Place the corn on the dessert bowl and cut with a sharp knife.
  • The corn kernels fall neatly in the large bowl! How easy!!!

For most of us finding fresh masa is not an easy task. Honestly, the first time I made this recipe I was determined to get fresh masa and Joey and I waddled all over the Mission District to find some. We ended up with a pound. That is A LOT! Now I am not bagging fresh masa, but I really can't tell the difference in this dish between that and the instant. If I can't tell, I promise Aunt Fanny won't either, so get the instant. I found MASECA Instant Masa fairly easily here in San Francisco, but if you can't find it you can buy it on Amazon from MexGrocer.com.

Here is my recipe for making just the right amount:

  • Mix 1/2 cup of instant corn masa mix (loose measure) and 1/4 cup of water (or so) thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes until dough forms a firm ball. (If dough feels dry add a splash of water at a time until it feel right. You will know.)
  • This makes the perfect amount of masa for you. YAY!

I am a total kitchen queen, but I so don't have a roasting pan that accommodates my 9x13 baking dish, so I have my handy-dandy aluminum one from Safeway. The only thing I use this for is my Sweet Corn Tomalitos. I recommend picking one of these up if your roasting pan isn't big enough. It is just perfect.

So there you have it - my potluck success secret! Enjoy being the hit of the party!


Brenda April 8, 2009 at 4:43 AM  

You write the most enjoyable recipes I've ever read. =)

On a design note...I love the little corners on each photo.

Anonymous April 8, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

This recipe is super delicious...Sean is a fabulous cook and an inspiration for all home cooks. My daughter thinks that Uncle Sean is not a cook but a "chef"...

Anonymous April 8, 2009 at 4:40 PM  

Thank you for the recipe Sean. The corn mush as Karolyn calls it was delicious. I am looking forward to having more of your recipe. Pam

Anonymous January 20, 2010 at 11:28 PM  

It sounds so delicious,I plan to make tomalito tomorrow to serve with my fjitas. Thank you for the recipe josette

Jasmine July 30, 2010 at 5:35 PM  

I assume you're referring to the Mission dist. In San Francisco. If you're looking for fresh masa or any random mexican ingredient, I highly recommend Las Palmas Mexicatessen on 24th st & Florida. They make masa fresh by and and you can by it by the quarter or pound. Definitely an easy way to purchase it without having a ton lying around.

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About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean


This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

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