Monday, January 26, 2015

Mexican Rice Tostada with Tomato Corn Salsa and Roasted Red Jalapeño

     Mexican cuisine is rated as the healthiest food that there is!  Basically the reason why is that so many fresh vegetables are used to make Mexican cuisine entrées.
     Tostada translates to toast.  Tostadas always used to be made with corn tortillas up till the early 1970's.  Flour tortillas are now the standard at most restaurants.  Honestly, corn tortilla tostadas do have a better flavor, especially when they are fried on a grill with oil till crisp.
     Most modern Mexican fast food shops barely toast the tortilla for a tostada.  Low quality chain restaurants serve a tostada tortilla that is more like an old dried out crunchy cracker than a fresh toasted tortilla.  Many restaurant chefs simply prepare too much food ahead of time to ease production and an example of the result is old stale tasting toasted tortillas that have no character at all.
     A Mexican restaurant that my step grandfather managed in the 1960's was the number one best Mexican restaurant in California.  The cooks prepared corn tortillas for tostadas by pan grilling and toasting to a crisp tan color to order.  That was more than 30 years ago.  A tostada tortilla has a much more appealing flavor when it is toasted to order!  It is the little things like this that add up to make a Mexican restaurant number one in an entire region.

     Refried beans are usually spread over the toasted tortilla, but not always.  For some Mexican tostada recipes melted cheese takes the place of refritos.  Even guacamole can be spread on the tostada.  One simply has to picture a toasted tortilla as being what it is.  Toasted bread!  Then the toppings for a tostada are limitless!

     Mexican rice and Spanish rice are really just about the same thing and there are several recipe variations.  Some Mexican rice is made plain.  Fancy versions are often dressed up with items like roasted corn, black olives, peppers, beans or onions.   Anatto or achiote is usually what is used to give Mexican rice its orange color.  Saffron is sometimes used to color and flavor Spanish rice.

     Tomato Corn Salsa is a very refreshing salsa.  The corn must be freshly harvested for today's salsa recipe, because the corn is not roasted.  It only takes a few hours for the sugars in corn to turn into a starch, so the fresher the corn is, the sweeter it will taste.  As always, non GMO organic heirloom corn is best for any recipe.  All sweet corn in American grocery stores currently is GMO.

     Bright red ripe jalapeño peppers can be milder than green jalapeños, but not always.  Occasionally there is a very fiery jalapeño in the bunch.  Roasted red jalapeño has a robust pepper flavor and it is a nice tostada garnish.
     Roasted Red Jalapeño:
     Lightly brush 1 jalapeño pepper with a little bit of vegetable oil.
     Place the jalapeño on a roasting pan.
     Roast the jalapeño in a 350º degree oven, till caramelized brown highlights appear on the pepper.
     Remove the roasted jalapeño from the oven and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Mexican Rice: 
     This recipe yields enough rice for 2 medium size 8" tostadas.
     The rice is not destarched in this recipe.  
     Always use 2 parts water and 1 part rice when cooking rice.  That is the basic proportion. 
     Step 1:  Boil 1 cup of water in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of long grain white rice.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Step 3:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam the rice, till the water is absorbed and the rice becomes tender.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil while stirring.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top.

     Black Beans:
     Place 1/3 cup of rinsed pre-cooked or canned black beans in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of water.
     Heat the black beans.
     Drain off the excess water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lard or vegetable oil.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Keep the black beans warm on a stove top.
     Tomato Corn Salsa:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups!
     Step 1:  Cut 1/2 cup of corn kernels off of an ear of fresh sweet corn.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add the corn kernels.
     Add sea salt.
     Blanch the corn kernels for 1 minute.
     Drain off the water.
     Allow the corn to cool to room temperature.
     Step 2:  Place the blanched corn kernals in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped tomato.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped seeded green serrano pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 clove of finely chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together and set the salsa aside for 5 minutes.
     Queso Fresco and Mexican Rice Tostada:
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle or a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Place an 8" to 10" flour tortilla or corn tortilla in the pan.
     Grill the tortilla on both sides, till it become crisp and toasted to a light tan color.
     Step 2:  Place the tostada on a sheet pan.
     Sprinkle some grated Queso Oaxaca over the tostada.
     Bake the tostada in a 350º oven till the cheese melts.
     Step 3:  Use a large spatula to place the tostada on a plate.
     Spread a layer of the Mexican rice over the melted cheese on the tostada.
     Sprinkle some thin shredded endive lettuce on the center of the tostada.
     Sprinkle a few black olive slices on the tostada.
     Sprinkle some of the reserved black beans on the tostada.
     Mound a few spoonfuls of the Tomato Corn Salsa on the lettuce on the center of the tostada.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion on the tostada.
     Place the roasted red jalapeño pepper on top of the salsa.
     Serve with sour cream and Mexican style hot sauce on the side.
     This tostada is nice on its own as a light lunch or as an appetizer!  

No comments:

Post a Comment