What Is Mote?

Geisha A. Legazpi

Mote, which is more popularly called hominy, refers to kernels of corn with hulls removed. To remove the hulls, these corn kernels are usually immersed in a non-acidic solution like limewater. This is a dish popularly served and consumed in Central and South America. There are other terms for these corn kernels, depending on how they are prepared. For instance, the coarse variety is called "samp," while the smaller variety is called "grit."

Fried mote.
Fried mote.

Recipes that incorporate these grains include menudo, tamale, and tortilla. Menudo is a Mexican dish of beef in broth, tamale is a leaf-wrapped steamed dish whose dough is usually made of corn, and the tortilla is a Mexican food with corn as its basic ingredient. Hominy is a kitchen staple in many households and restaurants, but it finds greater significance in Mexico, a country that grows 42 types of corn. In fact, many Mexican dishes, including the ones earlier mentioned, are made of masa, a corn-based dough, of which mote corn is an essential ingredient.

Menudo is a broth-based dish that incorporates mote.
Menudo is a broth-based dish that incorporates mote.

Mote can stand alone as an individual dish, as there are people who make mote cereals or consume it by itself as a vegetable. It is, however, commonly incorporated as an ingredient of other dishes usually to add flavor or to balance the texture. In Argentina, for example, the grains are boiled and typically served with a wide variety of meats, while hominy is a favorite soup ingredient in Bolivia. In Chile, it accompanies sauces or is added in soups. Mote con huesillo, a sweet beverage from Chile, is also based on these grains, as its name indicates.

A Venezuelan cuisine made from these grains is termed as mute, a dish that consists of corn kernels boiled and then served with pork and spices to heighten the flavor. Many Americans, particularly in the southern states, use these grains to make patties. The use of mote corn, however, is not limited to appetizers or main dishes. It is also integrated in many desserts and side dishes, such as canjica, a Brazilian sweet dish.

As a food in itself, mote has not acquired the word-of-mouth or media popularity as some dishes have. It is, however, a well-known ingredient among chefs and home cooks. Although many people may not be too familiar with it, it is considered an integral part of several well-known dishes.

Hominy grits are one variety of mote.
Hominy grits are one variety of mote.

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