I’ve always been a fan of Mexican food. I love just about anything that has a flour tortilla included, but it took me awhile to get used to the Panamanian version of the tortilla. The Panamanian tortilla is corn based and thick. I like mine covered in melted American cheese. You can pick up a pack of these (usually about 10 to a pack) tortillas at any Panamanian supermarket or mini-super for about a dollar, give or take a few cents depending on the store and the brand of tortillas.
To fry these just fill a frying pan with oil (I use canola) about an inch deep. Heat the oil on high heat. You never want to put your tortillas into the oil until it’s hot enough. If you do you’ll end up with a mushy mess. I usually use a pair of tongs to just touch the tortilla to the oil. If it starts sizzling and going nuts, you’re good to go. Carefully place however many tortillas will fit into the pan and let the oil go crazy.
I’m kind of nutty and every time I’m in the kitchen my imagination goes wild. To me, oil is like a calm psychiatric ward or a prison, where everything is cool and quiet. When you insert the tortilla it’s like dropping a new inmate into the mix. All the sudden the oil goes apeshit, like “What the hell are you doing here?!”
Ok, back to reality. So you’ll want to touch the center of the tortillas from time to time with your tongs to see how soft they are. Once the center feels firm, you can go ahead and carefully turn them over in the oil. From that point it doesn’t take long for the tortilla to be finished. Just let it fry until when you lift up the tortilla, the bottom side is golden and crispy. The idea is for the outside to be cooked and the inside to be somewhat soft.
Place the tortillas on a plate covered in napkins to soak up the grease. Cover each tortilla with a slice of cheese and serve. Tortillas go great with saucy dishes like bistec picado where you can use the tortilla to soak up the sauce. It’s easy to get addicted to these little orange treats. Panamanians love their fried foods, but I try to only eat them every now and then.
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