Frying Tostadas

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!

You'll need:

  • 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.
It might be as low as 300, though, so keep reading to see signs that you should turn it up. Put one whole tortilla in at a time, or two if your pot is big enough that they don't overlap. Push it down a little so there's oil bubbling on both sides. Turn it over after 30 seconds or so and keep frying until the tostada is crisp. It may not brown much, but it'll brown a little more when you take it out.

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.

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