Once a year I try visit a country with food scene that inspires me. Not only are these trips a fantastic excuse for a vacation, but I also come back recharged and inspired to create food outside my usual repertoire. In 2019 we visited Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua as part of our honeymoon, but also because my husband and I are completely obsessed with the bright flavours of Mexican and central American cuisine. Every day we told ourselves that today was the day we simply could not have another masa based street food offering, only to find ourselves salivating at a road side taco cart, only an hour later.

So what are salbutes? Salbutes are a puffed deep fried disk of corn meal dough, called masa, that are topped with lettuce, sliced avocado, pulled chicken or turkey, tomato and pickled red onion. Salbutes originate from the Yucatán peninsula but are also common nowadays in Belize. Salbutes, like many other delicious fried goodies around the world, are a staple of the party scene and really hit the spot after a few cold beers, or cerveses, as they are known in Spanish.

To make these you are going to need to get some masa harina, which is a special kind of cornmeal flour for making salbutes and corn tacos. It is widely available online, and once you have a bag it will last for ages- meaning you can make tacos, salbutes or even tamales at a moments notice! Head over to my Instagram story, to learn how to make salbutes using two books, if you don’t have a tortilla press.

The recipe to follow is my own little love letter to Mexico, a place which became very dear to me and which is now filled with many happy honeymoon memories. I hope it transports you, body and soul, into one of the fondest periods in my life this far.

If you want to find the cookalong for this recipe, head over to The Culinary Cartel on Instagram and click of our Tulum Tacos story highlight.

The cook along for this recipe can be found on The Culinary Cartel Instagram on our story highlights or by clicking here.

Tulum Tacos

Serves 4-5

Ingredient

For the Black Beans

1 cup dried black beans

1 garlic

6 cups of water

(Alternatively replace the beans for 2 cups tinned black beans)

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil or Butter

 

For the Salbute Dough

180g hot water

1/3 cup flour

1 1/4 Cups Masa Harina

¼ Tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Salt

 

For the Toppings: Select any of the following

Crumbled Feta

Cooked, shredded chicken

Sliced Boiled Eggs

Shredded Lettuce

Pickled Red Onion

Fresh Salsa- Chopped tomato, red onion and coriander

Avocado

Sunflower or Canola oil for frying the Salbutes

 

Method:

Start by making the black beans. Add the 6 cups of water to a pot, along with the black beans, whole garlic and the bay leaves. Simmer the black beans until soft, which will take about 1 – 1 ½ hours depending on the age of your beans.

While the beans cook, add your masa harina and water to a bowl. Mix them together until combined then allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Once rested add the remaining ingredients, and about 30-50ml more water until the dough feels soft and pliable, like playdough. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls

Once soft, drain the beans, reserving about 125ml of the cooking water. Add the water and beans to the blender. Squeeze the garlic from its skin, and add this to the blender too. Discard the bay leaves. Blend the beans until you have a fine puree.

Add the coconut oil to a pot, over a medium heat. Add in the bean puree and cook until thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Once cooked season with salt to taste and set aside until needed.

*Traditionally lard or chicken fat is used to cook the beans, but coconut oil is used here should you wish to keep the recipe vegan friendly

Using two books covered in plastic or a tortilla press, press the salbute dough into rounds 1mm thick. Check out our Instagram story here for the method.

In a clean pan add 2cm of oil, and heat over a high heat. Add the salbutes, one at a time, without crowding the pan. While they fry use a spoon to spoon oil over the upward side, which will help them to puff. Once they puff, flip them and continue frying on the other side until a little crispy, but still pale.

Build your salbute:

Take one of your crispy salbutes, and smear it with some of your warm bean mixture, top with any of your preferred toppings. Traditionally they are served with beans, shredded lettuce, shredded chicken or turkey, tomato, picked red onion, avo.

Happy Cooking x