Gallery: San Antonio: How to Make Puffy Tacos

Diana Barrios-Treviño of Los Barrios
Diana Barrios-Treviño of Los Barrios

Here she is modeling a platter of just-made puffy tacos. I think that face is somewhere between bright smile and I'm-about-to-take-a-bite!

Fresh Masa
Fresh Masa

It's brought into the restaurant daily at 5 a.m. It sits out for a bit under the towel before frying to develop the right pliable texture.

Masa Ball
Masa Ball

See how it doesn't stick to the hands? That's what you want. If it does get all over your hands, that means there's too much water. Diana actually encouraged us to smell her hands after balling this one up, to really appreciate the deep corn aroma left behind.

Masa vs. Maseca
Masa vs. Maseca

The fresh masa (on the left) is slightly whiter and denser, while the maseca is airier. You can feel a slight difference between the two textures. Diana prefers using the fresh masa, which usually keeps its shell shape better in the oil, but will use maseca in a pinch.

Pressing time
Pressing time

Line the press with plastic first to make peeling off easier.

Pressed!
Pressed!
Ready for the oil
Ready for the oil

This was taken a second before the flat pancake-shaped masa was placed into the hot soybean oil.

Spatula Shaping
Spatula Shaping

Gently flip the masa and start forming an indentation down the middle.

A baby puffy
A baby puffy

After about 45 seconds in the oil, a puffy is born. They're super-crisp on the outside but soft within—surprisingly light for fried dough, not doughy or heavy in the slightest, just airy and corn-y inside.

Toppings bar
Toppings bar

We piled our puffies with a bit of everything: beef, lettuce, beans, tomato, cheese, and guacamole. That seemed like the right thing to do.

Voila, Puffy Tacos
Voila, Puffy Tacos

Eat three of these and you'll feel pretty puffy, but it's too hard to stop after one.