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The True Tostada

June 25, 2012

Growing up, the term “tostada” in those big chain Mexican restaurants always referred to a Mexican salad served in a puffy fried tortilla the size of the Rose Bowl. It was basically a giant nacho chip topped with salad, and while my childish sensibilities may have thought this Americanized tostada was pretty cool, it’s quite far removed from the authentic Mexican tostada. Literally translated as “toasted,” the tostada consists of a single corn tortilla, fried until crispy, and then topped with meat and veggies. You don’t eat it with a fork – it’s street food that you eat with your hands, and when done right, it’s a fantastic treat. This recipe comes from television chef and restaurateur Aaron Sanchez’s book Simple Food, Big Flavor. If you’ve gotten tired of Rick Bayless’ recipes (not that you could), give Sanchez a try – he knows his stuff. But for this recipe, I’d use either Bayless’ tomatillo salsa from scratch, or his Frontera brand bottled salsa. The great thing about tostadas is that like tacos, you can top with your favorite ingredients and alter the recipe to your own taste. The only changes I made to Sanchez’ recipe is that I added diced tomatoes and omitted the radishes and beans. But again, the tostada is like a blank canvas for you to create a culinary masterpiece. Enjoy!

Aaron Sanchez’ Chicken Tostadas

(serves 2)

2 cups tomatillo salsa

3 cups cooked shredded chicken

Vegetable oil

6 corn tortillas

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

3 cups shredded lettuce

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup crumbled cheese (cotija or Jack work well)

1/2 cup crema (sour cream with a little water to thin it out)

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Heat the salsa and chicken in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through. Reduce heat to low. Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a frying pan and heat on med-high. Fry one tortilla at a time until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds per side. Let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon equal amounts of chicken mixture on each tortilla, then top with avocado slices, lettuce, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle crema on top, then add cilantro. Eat!

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