Cornmeal is a meal (coarse flour) ground from dried maize (corn). It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies, but not as fine as wheat flour. In the United States, very finely ground cornmeal is also referred to as corn flour. However, the word cornflour denotes cornstarch in the United Kingdom, where cornmeal is known as polenta and finely ground corn flour (for making bread or tortillas) is known as maize flour.
There are different types of cornmeal.
Steel ground yellow cornmeal, which is common mostly in the United States, has the husk and germ of the maize kernel almost completely removed. It is conserved for about a year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Stone-ground cornmeal retains some of the hull and germ, lending a little more flavor and nutrition to recipes. It is more perishable, but will store longer if refrigerated. However, it too can have a shelf life of many months if kept in a reasonably cool place.
Blue cornmeal is light blue or violet in color. It is ground from whole blue corn and has a sweet flavor. The cornmeal consists of dried corn kernels that have been ground into a fine or medium texture.
- Made into bread, as in cornbread, spoonbread, jonnycakes, hushpuppies, or corn fritters
- As Grits
- As a porridge, such as cornmeal mush, which is often then sliced and grilled
- Cheese curl-type snack foods, such as Cheezies and Cheetos
- In corn chips such as Fritos, but not corn tortillas or tortilla chips, which are made from nixtamalized maize flour
- As breading for fried or baked foods, such as fried fish
- As a batter for a fried food, such as corndogs
- As a release agent to prevent breads and pizza from sticking to their pans when baking
- As a breakfast cereal ingredient
- Known as "samp" it was used in colonial times as a kind of porridge.
- G'omi ( Georgian: გომი), mchadi (Georgian: მჭადი), tchvishtari - Georgia (g'omi is similar to polenta, mchadi - cornbread, tshvishtari - cheese cornbread). Known by different names in local languages (Abkhaz: абысҭа abysta, Adyghe: мамрыс mamrys, Ingush: журан-худар juran-hudar, Nogai: мамырза mamyrza, Ossetian: дзыкка dzykka or сера sera), it is also widespread in other Caucasian cuisines.
- Kachamak (качамак) - Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia
- Mălai - Romania (the cornmeal itself; prepared as mămăligă)
- Farina di granturco - Italy (not the same as farina, which is made from wheat)
- Polenta - southern Europe, especially Italy
- Arapash or harapash - Albania (similar to the Romanian style but often combined with lamb organs, or/and feta cheese)
- Nshima or bwali - Zambia
- Nsima - Malawi
- Oshifima or Oshimbob - Namibia
- Nomadi - Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Sadza - Zimbabwe
- Ugali - Great Lakes (sima and posho in Uganda)
- Mielie-meal or mealie pap - Southern Africa
- Recipes that may use cornmeal as an additional ingredient are fufu (foufou) in Central and West Africa.
- Poudine maïs - Mauritius
Horn of Africa
- Soor - Somalia
- Cornmeal is also often used as an additional ingredient in the preparation of injera or lahoh, flatbread that is traditionally eaten in the countries of the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia) and nearby Yemen.
- Makki di roti - a traditional Punjabi bread often eaten with saag in Punjab province of northern India and eastern Pakistan
- Wo tou (窩頭 nest head) - Shaped like a hollow cone, this cornbread looks like a bird's nest, after which it is named. It is commonly eaten in northern China, and may contain dried jujubes and other flavoring agents.
- Tie Bing (貼餅 sticking bread) - This product can either be fluffy like a mantou or more flatbread-like. It is traditionally stuck around the outer rim of a large wok while meat or fish is being cooked. Generally, an alkalizing agent such as baking soda is added to increase the nutrient value. It is also found in northern China.
- Corn congee (棒子麵粥) - A porridge made from plain cornmeal. It is normally thinner than grits or polenta and is often eaten with Chinese pickles.
Mesoamerica and South America
- Masa - nixtamalized corn used for making tortillas, arepas and tamales in Mexico, Central America and South America
- Fubá - Brazil
- Polenta - a typical dish in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay.
- Cou-cou - part of the national dish of Barbados, "cou-cou and flying fish".
- Funchi - a cornmeal mush cooked and cooled into a stiff pudding, sometimes eaten with saltfish and/or pepperpot. It is consumed on the island of Curaçao and is part of the national dish of Antigua and Barbuda.
- Herbst, Sharon, Food Lover's Companion, Third Edition, Pg. 165, Barrons Educational Series Inc, 2001
- USAID Commodities Reference Guide. Section II: Food Commodity Fact Sheets
- Kilbride, Philip; Goodale, Jane; Ameisen, Elizabeth, eds. (1990). Encounters With American Ethnic Cultures. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama. p. 82. ISBN 0-8173-0471-1. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
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