Behold: the puffy taco shell. San Antonio’s native son. A humble corn tortilla, transformed into an airy, crispy vessel that will transport taco fillings to your mouth with style and grace. Somewhere in between a taco and a tostada, the puffy taco is a distinctly American take on a Mexican classic.
Thankfully, puffy tacos have caught on, and are readily available outside San Antonio in a lot of major cities. But if you need your fix from the comfort of your home, here’s how to do it:
The key to a good puffy taco shell is a solid masa. We like this recipe from Chowhound, which is meant for tamales, but works well for puffy tacos if you cut back on the lard/shortening by about half. Once you’ve got your masa, pinch off a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll it smooth, then run it through a tortilla press. We like them pressed slightly thicker than standard taco tortillas to help trap air bubbles without cracking the shell.
The other key to a good puffy taco is the right frying temperature. The idea is to fry quickly so the tacos turn puffy and golden brown before they absorb too much oil. We like to fry at around 380 F degrees in 2-3 inches of oil for about a minute. Also–and this is important–make sure to press down on the middle of the tortilla round with tongs or a wooden spoon to make sure it takes the shape of a taco as it cooks.
And that’s pretty much it! Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.