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.
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.
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).
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!
- 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
- ¾ cup White vinegar (white balsamic works best)
- 1 cup Water
- 1 tsp. Dried Mexican oregano
- ½ tsp. Ground cumin
- ½ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. Ground cloves
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 Radishes, thinly sliced
- 8 to 12 White pickled onions, separated into rings, or raw white onion rings (see note)
- Lime wedges
- 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.
- 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.
Really tasty overall! In addition to refried black beans, avocado, and pickled onions, I also put some carnitas-inspired jackfruit and cilantro into the sandwich. For the salsa, I omitted the water and added a 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes, and the spiciness with that modification was great for me. I did find the salsa to be too acidic for my liking, but not so acidic that I didn't finish every bite of the sandwich :) that said I'll start much smaller with the vinegar next time I make this!
I'm from Mexico, my dad is from Guadalajara and I have tried a version of this Torta Ahogada filled with any kind of fried mushrooms (wild ones are better) with a little onion and coriander. I bet if you add that to this plate, you'd end up with something really good.
I'm so happy I've found this blog, it's ultra nice to see Mexican recipes veganized and still staying as true as the originals. Congrats, dear Dora!
That sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing
Mushrooms! Never thought about that.
I often combine Indian and Mexican food (love both), including when making tortas.
I've never actually measured anything out, but it contains the following:
- A french baguette ideally (absorbs the sauce without becoming soggy as quickly)
- Chickpeas and black beans in tikki masala (often just make it myself to avoid the cream and butter) or similar curry sauce. Sometimes I'll add peppers, onions, corn, or other beans to this. (Mushrooms would be a great addition!)
- Spanish rice with a bit of lime, mango, and chipotle pepper added
- Fresh avocados, cilantro, onions, mangos, and jalapenos.
- Topped with salsa or any sauce of your choice that's fitting. I often add pickled jalapenos, carrots, and onions.
I often make extra of the beans, rice, and buy extra produce and eat the leftovers with na'an or corn tortillas the following day.
The picture looks like it shows tomatoes in the blender, but the recipe doesn’t mention any. Are tomatoes needed for the sauce? If so, how many and how should they be prepared?
For a less spicy version of the sauce omit the water and add 1 to 3 cups of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes to the salsa and omit or decrease the chiles de árbol to your taste.
Torta Ahogada looks fantastic! Can't wait to make it! I will eat it just like it is, but any suggestions for how I might make a milder version for my wife that is just a tasty?
HI Matthew, you are brave, I made the sauce with the 30 chiles and it was way too hot for me. If you look at the recipe notes I have added some options to make a less spicy version and a non-spicy tomato sauce as well. Enjoy!