This recipe details how to fry up corn tortillas to make the tostada shells. If you are using packaged shells, before serving them, spread them out on a baking sheet, or directly on oven racks, and heat them at 350°F for 4 to 5 minutes, or until you can smell the aroma of them cooking. Don't keep them in the oven too long, or they will burn. Just heat them enough to lightly toast them.
For the tostadas:
- Corn oil or canola oil
- 12 corn tortillas
For the toppings:
- 3 1/2 cups refried beans, homemade or from 2 15-ounce cans
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, sliced thin and seasoned with salt and vinegar (no oil)
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 to 2 avocados, chopped peeled and pitted, or guacamole
- 8 ounces grated Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, or crumbled queso fresco and/or cotija cheese
- 1 cup of salsa, or 1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapeños
- A handful chopped fresh cilantro
1 Warm the refried beans: Warm the refried beans in a frying pan on medium heat, until warm. If you are using regular canned beans, drain them, then add them to the pan with a little water, mash them as you heat them.
For extra flavor for the beans you can stir in a tablespoon of bacon fat to them and/or a big slice of cheddar cheese.
Keep the beans on warm while you prepare the tortillas, adding water to them as necessary to keep a creamy consistency.
2 Dry the tortillas in oven: To help the tortillas fry up better, dry them in the oven by laying them out on an oven rack and cooking them at 250°F for 10 minutes or so.
3 Fry the tortillas: Pour enough oil into a frying pan so that you have a quarter inch layer of oil. Heat the oil on medium high heat until sizzling hot, but not smoking.
One at a time, fry the tortillas in the oil. Bubbles should form in the tortilla immediately as you put the tortilla in the oil, otherwise the oil is not hot enough.
Fry until golden brown on both sides, cooking about 30 seconds to a minute per side. Use metal tongs or a spatula to push the tortilla down in the oil, and to turn and lift the tortilla out of the pan, draining the excess oil as you do so. (The tortilla should be fairly stiff and crisp. If not, the oil is not hot enough.)
Place the tortilla on a paper towel-lined plate, to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.
Put the cooked tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
Add more oil to the pan as needed, taking care that the oil heats sufficiently before adding a tortilla to the pan.
4 Serve with toppings: To serve, place toppings in separate bowls, with a larger serving dish for the beans. Bring out the tostada shells in batches, keeping those unused warm in the oven.
To prepare a tostada, spread a large spoonful of mashed beans over a tostada shell. Sprinkle on cheese and other toppings (sliced lettuce, avocados, salsa, etc.)
Don't load the tostada too much or you'll find it difficult to eat. Eat by picking up the tostada with both hands (like a pizza slice).