September 30, 2012

Mexican tostadas

Over six months have gone already, since I discovered the joys of Mexican cooking and shared my new fondness with a series of articles on Global Gourmande (see ¡Viva ceviche!, Rustic Mexican cooking in Sierra Norte, Chomping on churros, Perfect pastries in Mexico).

Among the many delicious specialties we had the opportunity to sample on our trail, there is one local snack in particular which I promised to myself to try and reproduce shortly after we would be back in Europe. It is tostadas - deep fried tortillas spread with pureed black beans and topped with lettuce, fresh cheese, avocado and occasionally shredded chicken.

Shortly it was not, but I finally gave it a try a few weeks ago - which did not just result in a very satisfying lunch but also brought back a good deal of happy travel memories to our table. Although I baked the tortillas instead of deep-frying them - easier and healthier after all - and used mozzarella in place of queso fresco, it tasted great and fairly authentic.

Rather than providing a detailed recipe, I will roughly describe how I proceeded - so anyone feels welcome to further play with the method as well as the ingredients according to their own taste and cooking style. You'll see that in spirit, putting together a tostada is actually very similar to making a sandwich!

First thing first: tortillas. As I could not find any corn tortillas in our usual supermarket, I used some wheat ones, brushed them with a little olive oil and baked them on parchment paper in a hot oven. I was surprised how fast they turned crispy and brown - so keep an eye on it as just a couple of minutes should be enough.

For the bean spread, I used kidney beans from a can, drained them and warmed them up in a pan with a little water on low heat, until they got soft enough to be mashed into a coarse puree using a fork. In case the mixture has got a bit stiff by the time you're ready to spread it over the tortillas, you can just add a little water to make it soft again.

I boiled some chicken breast until cooked through, and rinsed it with cold water to cool it down a bit before shredding it with my fingers.

Putting the tostadas together now - child's play:

Spread some bean puree over your toasted tortillas

Top with shredded lettuce, shredded chicken, thinly sliced fresh cheese (mozzarella makes a decent substitute to Mexican queso fresco - and although saltier, halloumi cheese would probably work too), sliced tomatoes and avocado. To prevent the avocado from oxidizing once cut open, splash the slices with some lime juice.

Squeeze some lime and garnish with fresh coriander to bring on the full flavor of Mexican cooking, and if you like it a bit hot, sprinkle some chilli powder on top to finish.

¡Buen provecho!

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