Crispy Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)
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We love tacos. In other words, we’re human. Longtime favorites run the gamut from our vegan bean tacos to carne asada. These vegetarian crispy potato tacos (tacos de papa) are a fun and delicious alternative.
These tacos de papa make a terrific vegetarian meal alone or alongside a bowl of black bean soup.
Here at the Jersey Shore we have a great local chain of taco restaurants called Surf Taco. They do a seasonal Cajun potato taco that’s crispy and creamy and diminutive. It’s pretty good, but I always like the idea of it more than the execution. I always wish it had more flavor. Last weekend I got tired of wishing and decided to woman up and make crispy potato tacos (tacos de papa) at home, exactly the way I wanted them.
Why did I wait so long to throw a family taco party? Never wait to throw a taco party.
Why fry tacos de papa?
To be honest, I know the two reasons why I waited. First, Surf Taco is for days when you don’t feel like cooking. Enough said about that.
Second, though: I hemmed and hawed for a while about whether to try to bake these in the oven rather than fry them, or even whether to start with crispy taco shells from a package. I don’t fry all that often. I bet you don’t either.
But this time I fried. And in the end it’s well worth it. We’re not even talking deep frying — just 90 seconds per side in a skillet and you’re done. It’s more of an exciting sauté, let’s say. Try the fry, let’s say. You’ll be glad.
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- A few grinds black pepper
- 12 6-inch corn tortillas*
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 4 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 small red onion, minced
- Additional sour cream, if you like
- Peel the potatoes and cut into roughly 1-inch cubes. Place in a small pot with water to cover and two teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain and return to pot.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, onion powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add mixture to potatoes and mash until smooth. (Nothing fancy — a fork will work fine.)
- Soften the tortillas by microwaving the stack between moist paper towels for about 20 seconds. (You may need to repeat this if they cool as you work, or heat them in batches.) Spread a generous two tablespoons of potato into each tortilla and gently fold to form a taco. I find hands work best for spreading, but maybe you're more talented with utensils than I am.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch frying pan until thin and shimmering. Working three to four tacos at a time, fry on one side until crisp, about 90 seconds, then flip and repeat. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little additional salt if you like.
- To serve, add some cheese, cilantro and red onion to the top of each taco, and pass sour cream at the table if you like.
For the photos I ended up using Whole Foods' "soft corn" tortillas, which are part corn part wheat, because that's what I could find. They taste good and don't need any special treatment to fold without breaking.