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Puffy Tacos....


spoonbread
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What the heck is a puffy taco???

Rofl!! A puffy taco is a taco that is "puffed". What makes it puffed is the fact that baking soda is added to the harina mix,so when you fry the harina dough in oil, it will puff up and swell.

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  • 2 weeks later...

wait -do puffy tacos really have baking soda in them? i was watching rob walsh on that obnoxious morning show (what the heck is it? have a nice day s.a. or some cheesier title) anywho, he said that puffy tacos get their 'puff' because the tortilla is never baked, you just drop a raw tortilla in the oil. well... when it comes to tex-mex i am clueless.... so it very well could be that i misunderstood.

"Things go better with cake." -Marcel Desaulniers

timoblog!

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As a long time fan of the puffy taco, I wondered how they were made until I saw an episode of Food Network's Food Nation with Bobby Flay and Diana Barrios Trevino several years ago. She and a cook from Los Barrios demonstrated how they made my favorite taco and it didn't involve any special ingredients. From what I remember, the cook dropped an ordinary corn tortilla into an oil-filled frying pan. Then, after a few seconds, the cook spooned the oil onto the top of the tortilla which caused it to puff. He then put a spatula into the middle to create the "taco" shell ready for filling.

If you're interested in the TVFN recipe...puffy tacos

No baking soda in sight...and if I can remember it, I'll post the name of a fave puffy taco fast food joint from my college days at Trinity..and to the above mentioned faves, I'd add Earl Abel's (Hildebrand at San Pedro) for Earl Burgers at midnight or later (it's 24 hours still, I hope)...a patty melt on rye bread that really can't be beat for comfort food in a classic diner setting at the odd hour, when Tex-Mex at Mi-Ti's won't satisfy the craving.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you can get hold of a copy of Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook, there is a foolproof recipe for San Antonio style puffy tacos. No baking powder required, I believe. It has more to do with the precise thickness of the masa.

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...and if I can remember it, I'll post the name of a fave puffy taco fast food joint from my college days at Trinity

Just curious; do you mean Trinity college or Trinity, TX?

Rice pie is nice.

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Sorry, but when I make puffy tacos, I make them from scratch and have always added baking soda. Not much, and I've been taught that was the trick. Maybe you don't really need to. When I go to work in my kitchen, I'll try frying a regular tortilla and post results.

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In making masa for gorditas, and some of the other thicker "tortilla"-like masa antojitos - and this includes puffy tacos - a small amount of wheat flour (all-purpose) is added to the masa, along with some baking powder. Soda would work in the presence of an acid substance = and in masa, I'm not sure what that would be, especiall since the cal used to process the corn is strongly alkaline.

Addition of the small amount of wheat flour contributes gluten which the corn dough is missing, and the mesh formed by the gluten strands can help the dough take advantage of the gas released by the baking powder in the presence of moisture and heat. Kaboom! Puffy taco!

They're greasy little suckers, but jeez they're good!

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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In Kansas City, I grew up with deep fried Tacos. Maybe a unique item to that region, although culturally tied to Texas. Most of our Mexican immigrants came from Jalisco by way of Texas and the Santa Fe RR. Our guys clipped them with clothespins, threw 'em right in the deep fryer, already fully packed. Much like a Chimi, but with corn tortillas. After this dousing, they were sprinkled with cheese, then served sizzling on a platter.You can still find the greasebombs around KC. I think these are variations on a theme. Ideas on this variant?

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I did try the method described, and I just got a fried tortilla. LOL! Maybe I didn't spoon the oil fast enough or something. I'll still experiment with it, until then, I'll stick with my recipe. :smile:

It helps enormously to start with raw masa. Although it is possible to puff a ready made corn tortilla, it is difficult and frustrating, and a way to make a pile of oddly shaped tostadas.

A freshly cooked tortilla that has inflated, and has a 'pocket' like a pita will work, because it will re-inflate. But the easiest and best is to get some fresh masa or make some from Maseca, and chuck in some flour and some baking powder.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Ya know, I think we are all allowed to make a mistake! I meant baking "powder", not baking "soda". :blink: Geeeezz...what was I thinkin'.. :wacko:

But I did buy R. Walshs' book and it said the same thing, about taking a corn tortilla and frying it and spooning the grease over it to make it puff. So I will try it again, it would be a heck of alot easier if that works!

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Ya know, I think we are all allowed to make a mistake! I meant baking "powder", not baking "soda". :blink: Geeeezz...what was I thinkin'.. :wacko:

Spoonbread, you know, it could have been baking soda that was used. It appears you took my musings into my own ignorance as some sort of corrective comment.

There are some other things - like an infusion made from the husks of a tomatillo, and a mineral salt, tequesquite, and, of course, cal - which have been used in Mexico for centuries to leaven or process foods.

I don't have a chemical clue about what's going on in these processes, so when I find out about something other than baking powder, it fascinates me. And that was it - no more, no less.

Regards,

Theabroma

PS: And if anyone out there can explain the soda and bp and tomatillo husk and tequesquite thing, I'd be much obliged.

T.

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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appears you took my musings into my own ignorance as some sort of corrective comment.

Nah, I was just tryin' to poke fun at myself for mis-using a word, that's all! :wink:

I would like to know about the infusion you are talking about as well. Sounds intriguing!

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Yeah - the tomatillo husk thing is really fascinating. I have a couple of books that specify how to make it - by that I mean they give proportions, etc. But basically you take about a tsp of anise seeds and 6 to 10 slightly dried husks (from 6-10 tomatillos), and about a tsp of tequesquite (an alkaline substance that precipitates out on the banks of certain brackish water lakes - Lake Texcoco for example. I suspect that the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah contain a similar item.) You pour on boiling water and let it steep until it is cool. Strain it and use it for a chemical leavening agent in tamal masa and in cakes. It is also used very, very traditionally in the processing of dried corn into nixtamal. I am guessing that the anise is to re-balance the flavor of the tequesquite.

I will be trying to make some tamal masa with it - I have a small bag of tequesquite - and will probably try to buy more, and some cal, and maybe some dried corn on my trip. It is just too fascinating to figure out how people figured out the use of all of these things, and the chemical reactions to them.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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OK... This SSB is fascinated. I can't wait to see what is going on with the tomatillo husks. The alkaline deposits should be pretty easy to identify. But the anise seeds baffle me.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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OK... This SSB is fascinated. I can't wait to see what is going on with the tomatillo husks. The alkaline deposits should be pretty easy to identify. But the anise seeds baffle me.

Hey, Fifi!

SSB? My acronym/initial bank is in overdraft!

Well, the anise seeds are a post-conquest addition, although there were certainly other things - hoja santa, tagetes lucida, etc, which would provide an "anisey" flavor. My guess to date - based on what I've been told plus the taste that tequesquite in particular lends to food - is that the anise flavor is a welcome screen for the more metallic, "grabby" and slightly acrid taste of the tequesquite (I will dig up and provide proper nomenclature).

I want to know what's in the tomatillo husks that cause a leavening action. That has always intrigued me.

Caroline?

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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SSB = Smug Scientific Bastard :biggrin:

Any chance of finding out what tequesquite is chemically? Also, where would a gringo get some?

Oh... The anise seeds are for the flavor. I get that. My sister has a huge hoja santa patch. Add that to the tea maybe?

Tomatillo husks could have some acidity from oxalic acid... maybe. Tannins would likely be there but I can't see what that would do. Then there are the sticky polysaccharides but I have no idea what that would do either.

*this kind of thing drives me nuts*

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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SSB = Smug Scientific Bastard :biggrin:

Any chance of finding out what tequesquite is chemically? Also, where would a gringo get some?

Oh... The anise seeds are for the flavor. I get that. My sister has a huge hoja santa patch. Add that to the tea maybe?

Tomatillo husks could have some acidity from oxalic acid... maybe. Tannins would likely be there but I can't see what that would do. Then there are the sticky polysaccharides but I have no idea what that would do either.

*this kind of thing drives me nuts*

SSB=Priceless!! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Re: tequesquite

It is sodium nitrate, or saltpeter, mixed with sodium bicarbonate. (??does this make sense?? Although Munoz Zurita is usually spot on, he is not a chemist, so there. If you'll accept a Lance Armstrong quick, and mudsllinging dirty translation of from Ricardo Munoz Zurita's Diccionario enciclopedico de gastronomia mexicana, here goes:

"Saltpeter with bicarbonate of soda, which is used in cooking and in the fermentation of doughs. It mainly appears during the dry season in lagoons and lakes in the Valley of Mexico (precipitates out - I've seen it compared loosely to the Egyptians' natron), where it is collected for culinary uses. Dating to the pre-Hispanic era, it is known as tequixqutl, from Nahuatl tetl 'stone, rock' and quixquitl, 'gushing, flowing, budding.' ...

"Before the Conquest the region of Iztapalapa was where it was gathered (just east of Mexico City, where the new Central de Abastos is located; the southern part of the historical region was under chinampa cultivation in the fresh water lakes. The lakes to the north had brackish waters and it is from these that they derived tequesquite)' and used it as a salt (sodium chloride) substitute." ...

"Tequesquite's most important use in traditional Mexican cuisine is in its capacity as leaven. Tamales from Central Mexico owe the lightness of their masa to tequesquite. It is also used in the dough for bunuelos (obviously a post-Conquest adaptation). Ground tequesquite is mixed with water and husks of tomtillos, boiled, allowed to cool, strained, and added to dough to ferment it....

"Another use is to soften grains of corn and geans: in this use ground tequesquite is added to the water in which thay are cooked; it use is evidenced in the softness and yellow color of the ears of corn sold in the streets of Mexico City. Dried corn is also cooked with tequesquite in place of cal (calcium hydroxide) in order to nixtamalize the corn. Many people alsoo use it when cooking greens and cactus paddles, in order to keep their green color, soften them, and aid in their digestion; in the case of cactus paddles, it helps cut down on the slime (think okrs). And the the Pulque Belt, it is used to make pulque vinegar."

(comments in parentheses are mine)

So there. More than you EVER wanted to know about it! There are little blink of the eye towns in Mexico named things like Tequisquipan and Carmen el Tequesquite (which I drove through - its in the southern part of the state of Tlaxcala where it meets Puebla. It is desolate, flat, an extinct lakebed. It is a totally lunar landscape - very pretty in an odd way and quite eerie at the same time. There were several groups of people digging tequesquite there.

Now, for sources: usually, individuals. I have a small stash of it which I will look for. My Poblana friend, Nuria, is in Houston now and I will check with her to see if she can track some down. I leave for Mexico in a week ... but will be in the western part of the country. I will look for some and bring a quantity back if I locate it.

I intend to make a coccion, or infusion of all of that goo, and give it a whirl in some tamales. I'll let you know.

Regards,

Theabroma

Edited by theabroma (log)

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I grew up in Houston in the 60's and 70's. I remember the only thing I would order at a Tex-Mex restaurant was chile con queso. Back in those days, this was a puffy tortilla coated in melted American cheese with a few slices of pickled jalapeno. I loved cracking the top of the tortilla dome. I wonder if I can replicate this in the same way.

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