These are great tacos but not found easily in the Mayan Riviera. To try this great taco, be prepared for a bit of a food hunt or food adventure. It is well worth the travels and will open you up to new places in the town of Tulum! Sorry there are no tweeting food trucks to let you know where a family is preparing the Salbutes of the day.And be aware, if no one can work the tacos on any given day, the little hole in the wall will be closed. If appointments are made and the main cook has to leave, you may find that the eatry is closed for a few hours, or minutes.
Salbutes: the open faced taco from the Yucatan region of Mexico
Yucatecan food, recipes that are indigineous to the Maya and Mexicans in the Yucatan Penisula and Quintana Roo, are very different from tradtional Mexican cuisine. This diversion, is partly due to the isolation of the inland towns and cities that did not have constant access to food, and the influence this region had from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, European (Spanish), (North) African, and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as influence from the cuisine of other parts of Mexico.
Salbutes are an example, a delicious example, of this unique Yucatecan food style that is very different from what most people would consider Mexican food. Visitors find it tough enough to adapt to the soft taco shells that are true Mexican tacos. Now we are introducing you to open face tacos that combine easy ingredients that are cooked using local spices and flavors.
This recipe as three parts to it. Making of the masa for homemade tacos, the preparation of the salbutes toppings and the best best part, the preparation of the onion salsa!
Masa Recipe (makes 1 pound of Masa/dough)
It is best to search out a Masa flour in the US or Canada in a Mexican grocery store or the international section of your local grocery store.ONce you have found this you can follow the recipe below:
- 2 1/3 cups dry masa harina (special corn flour that has baking powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix together so you form a small sticky ball. Knead this sticky dough on a flat surface until it becomes smooth, similar to a bread dough. Use a small bit of oil on your hands to ensure the dough does not stick. Add a bit of flour to the hard surface and knead the extra flour into the masa if needed.
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes before using it in a recipe for tortillas. Once the masa has rested it is ready to be pressed into tortillas with a tortilla press or using your hands, pressed with your palms into a round, thin circle.
Salbutes tortillas and fillings
- 1 pound masa (Prepared masa flour for the taco shells)
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil for frying (corn is best)
- 1 cup shredded cabbage or lettuce
- 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- pickled red onions (below)
- diced tomatoes
- habanero chiles in vinaigrette or any hot salsa
- cream if desired
Mix the masa and the flour until they are well blended and the masa is uniformly incorporated into the masa.
Divide the dough into 12 equal size balls and press them lightly in a waxed paper lined tortilla press. They should be smaller and thicker than regular tortillas, about 1/4″ thick and 2 1/2″-3″ in diameter. If you do not have a tortilla press, these can be made with your palms but watch the thickness, the shells need to be thin.
In a deep skillet, fry them on both sides in hot oil. They will inflate as they cook. Remove each one as it inflates and drain well on paper towels.
Top each salbute with a layer of cabbage, then turkey or chicken, pickled red onion and diced tomato. If you wish you can top it with an 18% cream, just a little.
Serve immediately, accompanied by a hot salsa if desired. Makes 12.
Ingredients For the pickled red onion::
- 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice (if you can find sour oranges in your local grocery store, this is best
- salt and pepper to taste
- dices habenero chiles for those who like it hot
Place onions in a saucepan, add water to cover, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Place the onions in a glass container with the remaining ingredients and allow to sit for several hours before serving. They keep up to one week in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3 cups.