For this snack, a gluten-rich wheat base is prepared by rinsing starch out of raw dough (the same base for seitan), which is then extended into sheets and allowed to dehydrate, until dry tan-coloured pieces are obtained; these pieces may be bought (as shown below, left). When deep fried, the intense heat makes any residual moisture and air trapped in the sheet to bubble, resulting in the expansion or puffing of the sheet to more than twice its size, as it crisps (photo below, right):
Already fried sheets may also be purchased, known as chicharrones de harina (flour chicharrones), duros, or “wheat pellets” in English:
In spite of the negative association with deep-fried foods, when frying is done properly, hardly any fat is absorbed, since the sheet is expanding (note zero fat listed above). In addition, wheat-based chicharrones are high in protein (gluten).
Since the olden days, these fried sheets have been sold outside schools and public buildings, or at outdoor venues such as parks and zoos*, simply sprinkled with a bottled red sauce and lots of lime juice:
In more recent decades, more toppings have been added, such as shredded raw veggies, crumbled cheese, cream or mayonnaise, and even meat products, particularly pickled pork rinds (cueritos), and hotdog sausages. These fully loaded treats are called chicharrones preparados (prepared) in Mexico City; in other regions, they may have other names, for example, in Northern Mexican states they are also known as chilindrinas (not to be confused with a sweet bread of the same name), or in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, chimichangas (not to be confused with a fried burrito of the same name). Toppings may also vary from region to region.
For this post, I am using already fried chicharrones, and three different versions: Classic Chicharrones Preparados (Chilindrinas), Estilo Centro Histórico (Downtown Mexico City Style) and Chimichangas (Sinaloa style).
Chicharrones Preparados –
Wheat-Based Chicharrones with Toppings
Large wheat chicharrones, also known as duros, or wheat pellets
Toppings, to taste:
Carrots; washed, peeled, ends removed, and shredded
Cabbage; shredded, washed, and drained
Cucumber; washed, peeled, ends removed and chopped
Limes; washed, and halved
Tomatoes; washed, stem end removed, chopped
Pineapple chunks; fresh or from can
Sesame seed; toasted
Avocados; washed (peel and slice right before serving.)
Cueritos – Pickled pork rinds; click here for my recipe, or from jar (below, left)
Hotdog cooked sausages; cut lengthwise into quarters, then sliced (below, right)
Cheese, such as Cotija or Parmesan; crumbled (below, left)
Mexican cream, or sour cream mixed with milk; place in a plastic bag, open one corner to dispense as a pastry bag (below, right)
Bottled hot sauce, such as Valentina™, Cholula™, etc.
Chili powder, or Tajín™, Miguelito™, etc.
Spread cream or mayonnaise on chicharron sheet and add toppings, to taste. Some examples, as follow:
Classic Chicharrones Preparados (Chilindrinas):
Spread a layer of cream on chicharron sheet; top with cabbage, cueritos, tomatoes, cucumber, freshly sliced avocado, and finish with more cream, cheese and hot sauce. Serve with halved lime:
Estilo Centro Histórico (Downtown Mexico City Style):
Spread layer of cream on chicharron sheet; top with cabbage, cueritos, tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple, freshly sliced avocado; finish with lime juice, red hot sauce, chili powder, and sesame seeds:
Chimichangas (Sinaloa Style):
Spread mayonnaise on chicharron sheet; mix carrots, cucumber and cabbage with hotdog slices, sprinkling with lime juice. Add on top of mayo, then finish with cream, cheese and hot sauce:
I am sure any or all of these snacks will bring back memories of after-school treats in Mexico to many of us, making them the perfect snack for kids and kids-at-heart alike on this April 30, celebrated as Children’s Day in Mexico.
¡Feliz Día del Niño! Happy Children’s Day!
* FUN FACT: Although zoos are a matter of ethical discussion nowadays, I remember enjoying them as a kid in Mexico, and also as a grown-up in Canada and the US with my own children. It is very interesting to see which animals will be kept in different countries. For example, in Mexico, animals considered common in Canada, such as foxes, and even urban pests such as racoons, were a big attraction. The polar bears were often too hot, and would take a sabbatical from their natural hibernation cycle, being seen mostly during cool winter days. And pandas became an enormous asset in the 1970s, when Pe Pe and Ying Ying, a gift from China, were the first pandas to successfully conceive outside of China; there was a national contest to name their first born, Tohui. Currently, Shuan Shuan, another daughter of the original pair, and Xin Xin, daughter of Tohui, are the only pandas left in Mexico.
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I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #539, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode. Special thanks to Bev for featuring my Lentil Soup with Vegetables (Vegan) at her party.