When you are a little hungry, but not famished, when you want something tasty to eat, but don’t really feel like spending too much time in the kitchen, fish tostadas are the answer. Start with a crispy corn tostada, add a layer of refried beans — the “glue” that sticks the fish to the tostada — and go from there. If fish isn’t to your taste, use beef, tofu, or just beans and cheese. Yes, there really are recipes online for tofu tostadas, but you would have to look long and hard to find any in Mexico. I went with fish fillets. They cook quickly, and make for a satisfying, light meal.
Crema blended with chipotle chile en adobo provides a creamy, zippy topping, along with the traditional refried black beans, thinly sliced cabbage, avocado slices, and a sprig of cilantro. In the mercado (market) restaurants or at street carts, sliced cabbage is the norm for topping tostadas.
You can make your own tostadas by frying corn tortillas, or brush with oil and bake. To keep it simple, I use packaged tostadas. In Jalisco, the stores carry Tostada Vallartense, made in Puerto Vallarta with black sesame seeds.
A few days later, lunch was tostadas topped with sliced, leftover chicken, and the addition of queso cotija. I’ve never been able to get my head around combining cheese with fish. Years ago, I got into a little dust-up with the head chef where I worked about topping Pescado a la Veracruzana with cheese. My quasi-Mexican palate couldn’t accept that combination, and it most likely would not be served like that in Mexico. But cheese with chicken works for me. If you don’t have this hang-up, by all means add queso cotija, or any other cheese, to your fish tostada.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 2 Tilapia fillets or other mild, white fish fillets, 13 oz (368 g) total
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup (240 ml) crema or sour cream
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) chipotles en adobo
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) refried black beans, warmed
- 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 6 corn tostadas
- Cilantro for garnish
- Blend salt, cumin and chile powder in a small bowl.
- Pat fillets dry with a paper towel, and evenly sprinkle both sides with salt mixture.
- Heat oil in a skillet. When the oil is hot, cook fillets for about 8-10 minutes for fillets 1″ (2.5 cm), turning halfway through. (See note below.)
- Remove fillets from pan and break into large flakes with a fork.
- Spread refried black beans on tostadas. Top with fish, cabbage, avocado, crema and cilantro. Serve immediately.
~ To insure that fish is not overcooked, follow the Canadian Rule: regardless of the cooking method — provided it’s not low temperature stewing or very hot sear — allow 10 minutes total cooking time per 1″ thickness of fish.
~ Eating seafood is fraught with decision making these days. To put it simply, fish can no longer reproduce at a rate that keeps up with the catch. It’s a net deficit for the ocean. I have settled on Kirkland farm-raised tilapia purchased from Costco as a conscionable option. Costco tilapia is grown by Regal Springs in Mexico and other countries, with priority given to the best aquaculture practices, and certified by Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative. In the U.S., you may have more options available for purchasing sustainable seafood.
~ Chipotles chiles are large, dried, smoked jalapeños. Mark Miller, in The Great Chile Book, describes the flavor as “smoky and sweet in flavor with tobacco and chocolate tones, a Brazilnut finish, and subtle, deep rounded heat.” In other words, delicious. They are canned in a red adobo sauce of tomato and vinegar that’s so good, I wish I could buy jars of just the sauce.
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