May 4, 2010

Totopos: Tortilla Chips (Updated)

Since discovering this simple recipe, Mark and I have made it more times than I can count. It is a fun addition to our repertoire, good for parties and big dinners. People usual are impressed with us, though I always tell them how easy it is. We made them again tonight, getting psyched up for Cinco de Mayo, I suppose. I finally took pictures while we were at it, so I thought I 'd repost this favorite of ours:

This is one of those things that is really simple and mind-blowingly delicious, but that most people don't (or at least I didn't) think to do. About a year ago, I bought a lovely cookbook from a hip and tasty Mexican restaurant called Tacubaya on Berkeley's famous 4th Street. Part of why I compulsively bought the book were the enticing photos and sleek design, but Tacubaya's food also happens to be fantastic and authentically Mexican (not so many Mexican restaurants actually are).

One of my favorite Mexican dishes, chilaquiles, has a base of fried corn tortilla chips or totopos. I couldn't wait to make chilaquiles of my very own (I hope you've had the opportunity to try them and know why), so the totopos were the first recipe I attempted. Now, I have to tell you that I am afraid of frying anything. My family never fried foods when I was growing up and I had never personally attempted to fry anything, ever.

I found that this was actually nothing to fear. And while it's cheap and easy to buy corn tortilla chips at the store, this only takes a few minutes and is more worth it than I could have ever imagined.

  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 24 fresh corn tortillas
  • Kosher salt
  1. Put the canola oil in a large frying pan and turn the heat up to high.
  2. In the 5-10 minutes it will take the oil to heat up to 350 degrees (I don't have a thermometer, but when it's hot, it's hot), cut your tortillas into sixths to make chip-size triangles.
  3. When the oil is ready, turn the heat down to medium-high. Put half of your cut tortillas in the pan, submerging them with a slotted spoon if they float up to the top. They will turn crispy and brown in about 3-4 minutes. (Try not to let them get too dark.)
  4. Use the slotted spoon or a spatula to fish out the chips, letting as much oil as possible drain back into the pan. (You'll want to do this pretty quickly, since they'll get extra crispy if you leave them in too long.) Set the chips on a few layers of paper towels to soak up the extra oil.
  5. While they're still hot, sprinkle them with salt and have a few!
  6. Repeat with the other half of the tortillas.
These would be a fantastic appetizer as is or served with salsa and guacamole. The best chilaquiles I've ever had were made with these chips, and I've made a delicious plate of nachos with them as well.

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