Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Homemade Tortillas

If you're in the mood for Mexican food in Japan, you have some limited options for getting what you want. There are a few Mexican restaurants but most of them sell dishes altered to suit Japanese tastes. A few exceptions are La Jolla in Hiroo and El Torito. The food at these places is typical American-style Mexican for the most part though it's a bit pricey.

If you want to make your own, some local markets carry limited amounts of Mexican ingredients. For instance, you can get powdered seasoning mixes for tacos, guacomole, and Mexican rice. Taco shells are sold in most places which have foreign food sections though you can't get them at the average local market. A few also carry tortillas in the freezer section or packaged for long-term storage in plastic bags. Most of these tortillas are ridiculously priced (about 80-100 yen per tortilla) and not all that good because they're meant to sit on the shelf for months, not taste fresh.

If you're ambitious enough, you can make your own tortillas with easy to find ingredients. It's not difficult but it is somewhat time-consuming. The main benefit besides better taste and texture (because they're soft and fresh), is that you can make them with wheat flour instead of white. That makes them somewhat better for you as whole wheat flour has a less detrimental impact on blood sugar levels than white flour.

I usually make mine with a mixture of white and whole wheat since using only wheat flour tends to create a dough which tears apart rather than stays together as a cohesive ball.

Here's the recipe:


3 cups of flour (I use 2 cups of wheat, 1 cup of white)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 tbsp. vegetable shortening (Crisco) - do no use lard!
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vegetable shortening. Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just mix it with your hands until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add warm water a little at a time until the dough is soft and not sticky.

Pull off pieces of dough until you have 12 small balls (make fewer if you want larger tortillas). Let them rest for 10 minutes or more.

Roll out each ball of dough until very thin and cook each tortilla in a medium-hot skillet for 20-30 seconds on each side. Be careful not to overcook them or they will dry out and be tough. If you make the tortillas with whole wheat flour, they will not brown the same as those made with white flour.


Leo said...

The more you post recipes here, the more I'm tempted to throw away my cookbooks (especially after the tasty cinnamon rolls post). I usually buy wheat tortillas for the same reason that you mentined (and corn tortillas, though I do break down and the normal flour ones every so often). Thanks for the tip about the Mexican restaurants, There are some great Mom 'n' Pop shops in my area that I'm spoiled for great Mexican food.

Shari said...

I didn't think anyone read the recipe posts and am gratified that you've found them useful!

You are lucky about the Mexican places. One of the restaurants near us used to have a so-called "Mexican" menu but all it was was a soft corn taco full of meat paste, shredded cabbage and some really funky salsa. Other than that, it was steak and gratin.

Anonymous said...

Junkadelic in Nakameguro and El Quixico in Nishi-Ogikubo are both excellent, btw.