You can buy tostadas (crisp corn tortillas) at any Mexican market and at most California supermarkets these days, but they're so much tastier made at home! It's a simple process but one that requires a little finesse and patience. I'd say it requires practice, but if you're like me you probably only want to deep-fry at home once or twice a year!
- A deep heavy 4-8 quart pot
- Good kitchen tongs
- Factory-made corn tortillas (handmade are usually too thick for tostadas)
- 40-60 oz corn or other frying vegetable oil (or lard, if that's how you roll)
- a teensy bit of salt
- A brown paper bag for draining
Put 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy 8-12 inch pan. If you have a deep-fry/candy thermometer that works well, use that to get the oil to 350 degrees.
If you don't, do it the way most of us do (and I did until today) and watch the oil until it's shimmering but not smoking. If it's smoking, it's too hot.
To test the oil, put a piece of a tortilla in the oil. If it starts bubbling like crazy, it's probably there.
When a tortilla is more or less uniform in color and has almost completely stopped sizzling, it's ready. I have three minis in the pot here - it's hard to see the difference clearly, but the top one is ready and the bottom ones need a little more time.
Take it out and drain it on a brown paper bag if you've still got any of those! I paid 10 cents for one today. Sprinkle it with a teensy bit of salt. Repeat until you have as many tostadas as you need.
If when it cools completely there's no more shininess left, it's perfect. If there are shiny bits still after they cool, the shiny bits are probably underdone and will be a little chewy. They may need a little more time or a little more heat. You can still use those, or toss them if you've got extra tortillas. If it's too dark brown, turn down the heat a little.