I prepared for my trip to Mexico by adding siracha sauce to all my meals the week beforehand to get used to eating spicy. Let me say that adding siracha to normally non-spicy food does not taste good, nor it is helpful to prepare your tastebuds for the explosion of freshness and complex spices in mexican food. People have told me for many years that it is impossible to get real Mexican food in the Northeast and I would be completely surprised by my trip. As a food lover, one of the most anticipated parts of my trip was the food. I lasted 3 days. And then came montezuma’s revenge. Before the revenge, however, came chalupas. And I promise these did not contribute. They are simple flavors and made by easily-accessible ingredients. I made them this weekend for breakfast based on what I learned from Sofia, the octagerian mother of a friend I stayed with for 2 days outside of Mexico City.
You don’t actually need this tortilla press to make chalupas, but Sofia gave me a small one to take home with me and it definitely makes the process more fun. The first step is to make the dough. All you need is Maseca and water. This is the brand we used and it has instructions on the side: http://www.mexgrocer.com/2440.html. You can get it at any Latino grocer or corner store. We added a tablespoon of oil to help hold the dough together a little more. The important thing in making chalupas is that YOU DO NOT FLATEN THE DOUGH. With the press, you press down a bit on one side, then flip it over and press it a bit on that side. The dough should still be about a centimeter thick.
Next step is to put the dough in a cast iron pan or on a griddle until browned. No oil or butter needed in the pan. As soon as you take them out, press your thumb around the edge and then pinch in the middle into a little ridge. It will burn your fingers. Nobody ever said comida casera fue facil. Don’t be a wimp. Chalupa means little boat in Spanish so you are basically creating a little seat for the salsa and other yummy stuff to sit in. Otherwise the ingredients would fall out. Imagine eating an open-faced sandwhich in which the ingredients didn’t slide off…amazing.
Final cooking step is to put the chalupas back on the griddle to puff them up a little and get them hot before serving. Meanwhile, your assistant (or you if are a good multi-tasker) shreds or crumbles cheese and sets the table with salsa.
In Mexico we ate our chalupas with green spicy salsa, parmesan cheese and crema. Crema is a condiment used in a lot of central american food but one that I’ve only ever seen sold in Latino supermarkets. The two similar easily accessible options are Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche. Both are delicious. When I made them last week I served them with roasted peppers and onions, salsa and feta cheese. The week before that I served them with stew pot beans (runny, spiced black beans) and cottage cheese. You can really get creative with toppings depening on what you have in your fridge and how hungry you are. If, however, you are not feeling up to the chalupa challenge and are looking for good Mexican food, I would recommend you visit us in Chelsea, MA and check out either King Tacos or the new place across from Montecristo on Broadway.