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Steak Tostadas with Cashew Salsa and Red Cabbage Slaw

Taco Tuesday could easily be replaced by these Tostadas, which still keep a South of the Border flavor but add a crunch and cashews to the mix.  It’s from Bon Appetit and it makes a great weeknight change-up.  The tostada is a great discovery.  Easy to make, they take a corn tortilla and a little vegetable oil and crisp up in about a minute. The end result is a perfect ‘plate’ to load with flavor. A red cabbage slaw with scallions tops the tostada and then comes slices of steak.  I’ve used Hanger steak and New York strip both of which came through with great beef flavor.  More slaw is added then more steak and finally the whole thing is drizzled with the Cashew Salsa.  Bon Appetit labelled the Salsa ‘Cashew’ however considerably more red Fresno chiles go into the garlic and cider vinegar base.  Perhaps Fresnos, being one of the hotter of peppers, would scare people off but the cook is in control here.  You can make this as spicy or not as you wish.  This is a perfect way to take off for Mexico any night of the week.  And you may find that once you cook tostados, there’s no end to what you can top them with. First, what exactly is a tostada?
Corn Appears on the Mayan Calendar
Pure and simply, Tostada means “toasted”.  The basis for the tostada is the tortilla.  To most of us in much of the United States, tortilla means the flour version which is the wrapper for Burritos and the base for Quesadillas. The taco, from which most tostadas are made, uses corn tortillas.  These are among the most ancient of all foods in the Western Hemisphere.  For more than 7000 years, the natives grew the precursor to corn.  It wasn’t until 3000BC that people in the Sierra Madre mountains hybridized what was to become the large, nutritious kernels we call corn.  Its introduction was one of those amazing cultural moments of discovery.  A Mexican anthropologist, Arturo Warman, went so far as to credit the development of both Maya and Aztec civilizations to the development of corn.  Indigenous peoples viewed corn as “the foundation of humanity….the seed of life” and according to their legend, human beings were made of corn by the Gods. When the Spaniards arrived in the 1400s, what is now Mexico had a sophisticated cuisine made up of native fruits, game, beans, corn and turkeys.
The earliest Tostadas were dry-toasted in a pan without any oil. Now, it is far more common for tostadas to fried in a small quantity of oil.  There’s also a deep frying option which can be achieved in about 30 seconds a side. And you can even spray the corn tortilla with oil, then bake it in a very hot oven for about three minutes.  Ours were fried in oil as you can see.  Here is the recipe.
For the Slaw and Assembly:
1. Whisk vinegar, mayonnaise, and yogurt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage and scallion and toss to coat; season with salt. Set aside.
2. Season steak with salt and pepper; sprinkle with cumin. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook steak until deeply browned, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board; let sit 10 minutes before slicing.
3. Meanwhile, if making your own tostadas, pour oil into a small skillet to ¼” depth. Heat over medium. Working one at a time, fry tortillas until crisp, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels.
4. Top tostadas with some salsa, followed by steak, more salsa, slaw, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

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