Salbutes (Fried and Puffed Tortillas)
To make the salbutes:
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3/4 pound masa harina about 2 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces all-purpose flour about 1/4 cup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water more if needed
- Cut two round pieces of plastic — from produce or zip-lock bags — to a size about 1/2” larger than the diameter of your tortilla press and set aside. In a large skillet or cast iron pan, start heating about 3/4” vegetable oil, to have ready for frying the salbutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the masa harina, all- purpose flour and salt. Add the lukewarm water and, using your hands, mix and knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth and somewhat firm, about a minute. If the dough sticks to your hands and feels wet, add a bit more masa harina. If it crumbles and cracks when you roll a piece into a ball, or when you start pressing into tortillas, add more water a teaspoon at a time.
- Once the dough is ready, divide into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Cover the bowl with a towel as you move along, so the dough won’t dry out much.
- Working with one ball at a time, place one piece of plastic on the bottom of the tortilla press, place the ball of dough, and top it with the second piece of plastic. Gently squeeze the handle of the tortilla press until the dough is 1/8” thick and about 5” in diameter. To achieve a nicely round tortilla, jiggle the handle of your press just as you near the bottom. You may need to press it a couple of times to get the desired thinness.
- Open the tortilla press, peel off the top piece of plastic. Then take the tortilla on the bottom piece of plastic next to the skillet, so that you can pass it to one hand as you remove the bottom plastic with the other hand and quickly but gently lay the tortilla in the oil. The oil should be bubbling all around the tortilla.
- Using a large cooking spoon, actively and gently spoon hot oil over the top of the tortilla, so that you are helping it puff and also cook on the top side. Fry for about 30 to 35 seconds until it has puffed up on the top and browned on the bottom. Remove using the large spoon or a spatula and place on a paper towel covered drying rack or baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the tortillas.
- Once they are fried this way, they are called salbutes. Eat while hot! Top with a spread of colado black beans, lettuce, pibil picadillo, avocado slices, and chunky tomato and habanero salsa.