I live 50 steps from a Mexican bakery. They know me in there. The pastries are solid, the tamales they sell every Saturday morning are fantastic, and on special occasions, I hit them up for a bakery box so that I can make my own cake. But I wonder how to make tostadas when I can't buy good fried-corn tortillas, AKA tostadas, there to save my life.
Even at that bakery, the tostadas on offer are the ones that come stacked 30 pieces high in a plastic sleeve. The same tostadas, which, frankly, I can find in almost any grocery store in New York City. These tostadas can sometimes be fine, but more often than not, they're usually a little bit stale, always a little bit broken up, and mostly make me wish I'd bought tortilla chips to make nachos instead.
The trouble is, when I'm looking to make dinner, tortilla chips don't quite cut it, since nachos never seem like a legitimate meal. But a tostada, piled high with shrimp or shredded chicken or papas con rajas: now that is both a satisfying weeknight dinner and easy, fun party food.
And now I know how to achieve both my weeknight-dinner and party-food dreams. It's so simple: just buy corn tortillas instead. Sure, we've talked about how fresh, homemade tortillas are always better than store-bought. Always, that is, unless you're turning them into tostadas.
Like croutons or French toast, tostadas are best made from slightly stale bread (or in this case, tortillas). And, for better or worse, slightly stale tortillas are basically all that you'll find at the supermarket anyway. As Nils Bernstein explained in his guide to tostada parties all you need to do to transform a tortilla into a tostada is slip the tortilla into no more than an inch of oil and fry until crisp. No big fry-pot set-up needed, and they're ready in just a few minutes. There's no reason to worry about keeping them warm—tostada shells should be served at room temperature. And you don't need any special equipment to do it. Have you ever tried to fry a tortilla into a hard taco shell? Impossible! This: easy.
The freshly fried tostadas are both better than the store-bought fried ones and better than the store-bought tortillas were before you fried them: crisp, light, and begging for whatever you want to throw on top of them. Avocado dip and crab salad? Sure. Steak and cashew salsa? Yep. Chipotle chicken and chorizo? You know it. Roasted poblanos and corn? You do you.
And if you want to break any remaining tostadas into shards to serve with salsa on the weekend? Well, now you're thinking.Nils Bernstein
Originally Appeared on Epicurious