Monday, November 1, 2010

I've come to love Mexican junk food, from the fairly normal (potato chips with a little packet of Tapatio hot sauce right there in the bag) to the more obscure (mango flavored lollipops packaged with individual dishes of lime salt and chile powder for dipping). But one of my enduring favorites are Sabritones, puffed wheat snacks with chile and lime dust. They're junk bliss: hot, tart, puffy, and so easy to pop in right in your mouth. But the Guerrilla Gourmet is about real food, not something that was concocted by a lab-coated tech chained away in some underground bunker at Frito-Lay, so check out the DIY snack adventure after the jump.

 I did some research down on Mission street and found out that Sabritones are based on a classic Mexican snack called Duritos (with a U). They are made from a dried wheat pasta that turns golden, airy and delicious in a deep fryer and can be found in square or little pinwheel shapes. You can buy them on the street, cooked and coated in spicy chile powder or sweet cinnamon and sugar wherever you buy your illicit homemade tamales, or in their original pasta shape at your local Mexican produce market. The place around the corner from my house had big bags of pinwheels for only $1.79, making a $0.99 bag of Sabritones look downright expensive! So I set out to replicate the classic taste of Mission street in my own kitchen.

The first goal was to replicate the spice mix. On the street, as Bread and Butter reports, duritos are tossed with lemon juice and hot sauce, but I didn't want things getting soggy, so I decided on a dry mix. Chile, lime, and salt were the essential flavors, so I grabbed Sal y Limon, a super-sour packaged lime salt, at the same store where I got the duritos then headed home to dig through my spice stash. New Mexico Chile powder was a must, but to round out the flavor I also reached for ground cumin, black pepper, and Caldo con Tomate, a tomato-flavored boullion powder.

I mixed them in the following proprtion:

-1 Tb Chile powder
-1 Tsp Sal y Limon
-1/2 Tsp Cumin
-1/4 Tsp Caldo con Tomate
-Several grinds of black pepper

The resulting powder had just the kick I was looking for, so I fired up the deep fryer to 375 degrees (they can also be shallow-fried) and grabbed a handful of duritos...

...and tossed them in! The little orange wheels just sat there in the oil for about five seconds, then practically EXPLODED out of the fry basket. Seriously, these things expand to three times their original size in the oil and things got a little crowded. (Next time, I'll just add a few at a time. They only take about 30 seconds to cook, and they don't need to be served hot.) I drained them on paper towels, then added a few big pinches of my spice mixture while tossing in a bowl, and turned it all out into a newspaper lined basket. Delicious!