While at Super H Mart, I nabbed a new food item that really is just fun to make. In fact, I burst into laughter when I made the last batch, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I had seen small bags of these pasta-looking dealies before, but never had a clue how they were to be used. Recently, I stumbled onto a post by our fellow bloggers at Knuckle Salad and couldn’t wait to grab a bag and give them a whirl.
They are called pasta para duros (hard paste), a Mexican snack made from wheat flour, corn starch, bicarbonate of soda and food coloring. Uncooked, they are about the size of a quarter, are a reddish-orange color, and they are very hard (which may be why they are called duros after the Spanish word for hard.) Once cooked these little colored wheels puff up to about 2 -3 times their size and have a light, airy consistency similar to cheese puffs without the orange-flavored powder. Others have compared the taste and texture to that of pork rinds.
In Mexico, wagon wheel duros sprinkled with salt, lime juice and hot sauce shaken together in a bag, are sold by street vendors. The larger sheets are served with shredded lettuce and onions again with lime and hot sauce. Duros can be found in grocery stores which carry Latin foods in their uncooked pasta-like form. The most common shape is round wagon wheels, but they also come in tiny worm shapes as well as sheets and small 1-inch squares.
To cook them, heat 2 inches of oil (we used peanut oil) in a heavy pan or skillet to about 300 degrees F. When the oil the hot, place about 10 wagon-wheel-shaped duros in the oil and watch (and giggle) as the bubbles form and the potato chip-sized duritos float to the surface. Once they are puffed and floating, they are done. Remove them to a wire rack over paper towels to drain, and serve with salt, lime and hot sauce. (According to a quick poll of H-Mart employees, Valentina brand is the preferred hot sauce for duritos with Tapatio a close second choice.)
After serving a plateful as an appetizer, we had a fairly large portion left. Not being ones to waste food, we decided to toss the extras in a paper bag with cinnamon sugar like you would do with churros, and ¡aquí está! – churritos! These are my new favorite treat any time of day. Just try to tear that paper bag out of the grasp!
Supposedly, you can also cook the duros in the microwave with no water or oil by placing a few of the pasta wheels on a paper towel and microwaving for 30 - 35 seconds until they puff up into cute and crunchy doo-dads. We have tried this with limited success. Ours do not seem to puff completely and are much smaller than the fried versions.
Either way, these new additions to our repertoire are here to stay. Incredibly easy and wonderfully unique, I can’t wait to break these out at the next dinner party or potluck!