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Torta Ahogada Recipe (Vegan Mexico Cookbook)

This torta ahogada recipe or Mexican “drowned” sandwich is a crusty bread torta filled with refried beans and avocado slices, and drowned in a spicy chile de árbol salsa. It is a classic dish from Guadalajara, and it is not for the faint of heart or stomach! The recipe is from Jason Wyrick’s new book Vegan Mexico.  Jason is the chef and author behind Vegan Tacos and the blog The Vegan Taste.

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I am a huge fan of Jason and his recipes, so I was very excited when I received a copy of Vegan Mexico. It has taken me this long to write about it (the book was released in December), because I have been immersed in it since the day I got it! The book has over 100 recipes, all Mexican, and every one of them vegan. The recipes range from very easy to some more time consuming and complicated. My favorite part of the book is the stories and research behind the recipes. Each recipe giving you a little tid-bit of information on Mexican culture and tradition. It is exciting to see so many of my favorite recipes, and even some that I had not even thought of made vegan.

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The only thing I would change in the book, would be to add more pictures. There are a good number of pictures, but I think some of the recipes could benefit from step-by-step pictures. Some of my favorite recipes so far is of course this Torta Ahogada, the Tomato Black Bean Soup, and the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mole Enchiladas.  Jason’s book is available on Amazon in paperback ($12.12)  and kindle format ($7.99).

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The Recipe: Torta Ahogada Recipe

This is like Jason Wyrick clearly states in his book, one of the spiciest meals you will ever eat. Legend says the sandwich was invented when a street vendor accidentally dropped a torta in a container of spicy salsa, this drowning it. If you would still like to try this, but aren’t a fan of heat, check the recipe notes for a non-spicy or less spicy version. Traditionally a crusty salted bread called birrote is used, but you can use french baguette or bolillo instead. Enjoy!

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This Torta ahogada recipe is a crusty bread torta filled with refried beans and avocado, and drowned in a spicy chile de arbol salsa.
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Torta Ahogada

This Torta ahogada recipe is a crusty bread torta filled with refried beans and avocado, and drowned in a spicy chile de arbol salsa. Recipe from Vegan Mexico Cookbook.

Main Course
Mexican
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 tortas
Author Jason Wyrick

Ingredients

Tortas:

  • 2 Bolillo rolls or 6-inch long baguettes, split in half about 3/4 of the way
  • 1 cup Refried beans, using black beans, or store-bought refried black beans
  • 1 Ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Sauce: (WARNING: See note)

  • 30 Chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded, and rehydrated
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup White vinegar (white balsamic works best)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tsp. Dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. Salt

Garnishes:

  • 2 Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 8 to 12 White pickled onions, separated into rings, or raw white onion rings (see note)
  • Lime wedges

Preparation

Tortas

  1. Lightly toast the rolls or baguettes. Warm the beans and spread them evenly in each roll. Add the avocado slices. Place the sandwiches in bowls. 

Sauce:

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree the rehydrated chiles de árbol, garlic, vinegar, water Mexican oregano, cumin, pepper, cloves, and salt. (Strain if you want a very smooth sauce.) Pour the sauce over the sandwiches. Garnish the sandwiches with the sliced radishes and pickled onions and serve with lime wedges. Eat these tortas with a fork and lots of napkins.

Chef's Notes

WARNING: This sandwich is hot, really hot! For a less spicy version omit the water and add 1 to 3 cups of crushed fire-roasted tomates to the salsa and omit or decrease the chiles de árbol to your taste. 

Another option is to make two sauces, a non-spicy tomato sauce and the chile de árbol sauce. This way you can drown your torta in the non-spicy tomato sauce and drizzle some of the árbol sauce on top.

You can find a recipe for pickled onions here and one for refried beans here. 

 

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Chile de Arbol Salsa

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         I’m beginning to think maybe I should call this a Mexican food blog. It’s my last couple of days in Mexico and I’m sad to leave, but sooo looking forward to Cali. Everytime I come home I try to eat a little bit of everything, like the tacos al pastor they sell on the corner in front of Merco (a grocery store), the yukis (shaved ice) in front of the car wash on Hidalgo street, the mangonadas (mango and chile popsicles) at the Paleteria Aguirre (ice cream shop), and the elote en vaso (steamed mexican corn served with a chile mix, crema, butter, lime juice, and cheese), they sell outside of the Narvaez Hospital. Well, you get my point, I could go on and on. It’s not a coincidence that all the foods I just named are street foods, street food is king in Mexico. In fact, some of the best food in Mexico is street food. Of course there are nice restaurants, cafe’s, and taquerias (taco shops), but there’s just something about simple, hot, just made, delicious food, that’s hard to resist. It’s the ultimate non-processed fast food.

Mexican corn

Food truck assembling my corn deliciousness

 

Chicharrones

Once I leave Mexico, it seems that I spend the rest of the year, in my kitchen, trying to recreate every Mexican dish possible. This week’s recipe is a simple salsa and a couple of cocktails. Chips and salsa in Mexico are not quite like chips and salsa in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like both versions, but they’re just different. You can make your own authentic chips and salsa in less than 20 min. or as they’re called in Mexico: totopos con salsa.

Fruit cups sold on the street.

Sweet potato candy

 

Man in crutches pushing and ice cream cart

 

Carnitas sold by the kilo

For the chips, buy a pack of corn tortillas, not the frozen ones please, and cut into quarters. Fry them in 350F oil until golden brown. Remove the chips from the oil and sprinkle them with salt.

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The Recipe: Chile de Arbol Salsa

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Chile de Arbol Salsa

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 8 Tomatillo, husks removed
  • 3 Garlic, cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 oz (3/4 cup) Chile de Arbol
  • 1/2 Onion. white chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

Preparation

  1. Heat cast iron pan or griddle to high heat. Place tomatillos and garlic cloves in pan. Let the tomatillo’s skin burn and blacken on all sides. The garlic needs to be only lightly toasted on each side, about 1 -2 min.
  2. Remove garlic from pan, peel, and set aside.
  3. Once the tomatillos are soft and mostly black, remove them from pan and place in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 min.
  4. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan.
  5. Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles. Place them in the pot of boiling water and simmer from 5 to 7 minutes or until chiles are soft.
  6. Drain the chiles from the water.
  7. Place the tomatillos in the blender with the garlic, onion, cilantro, and chile de arbol. Blend, season, and add water is necessary to thin out sauce.

Chef's Notes

As an alternative you can place the tomatillos under the broiler in your oven for 15 to 20 min. until blackened and soft all over.