I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just crossed the border into Tijuana, Mexico with my Dad (which was a rare occasion, since I hardly ever spent time with him). He was determined to take me on an adventure and show me all the customs of TJ. From the stories that my Dad shared, TJ was a place with no rules, a grown-up fun house where you could take your shoes off and run through the streets and no one would say anything or look twice. He also had a big love for the food and was hard set on taking me to his favorite torta shop. My Dad has always loved a good torta de milanesa and this is one thing I know for sure about him, so I wasn’t surprised when this was the first thing he had on our agenda.
We drove into a parking garage and drove down into the underground spiral. To my surprise there was a little shop deep at the bottom of this parking garage. We parked the car and started to walk toward the shop and were met with a line wrapping outside the door and along the wall of the garage.
Inside the torta shop
When we finally reached the inside of the shop it was bustling with activity, it seemed like the two people that worked there were going 100 miles per hour. It looked as if the floor had been walked on for decades and the mishmash of colored tile on the wall resembled an abstract art design. The air was thick and heavy with mists of manteca filling every breathable space. There was a mean dog tied to a rope in the corner of the room, growling and making his presence known with an occasional bark. I refused to make eye contact with him. I looked at the magenta and cream houndstooth colored floor tile or the scribble on a dry erase board that listed the only 3 tortas they made instead. POLLO, CARNITAS, MILANESA.
I whispered to my Dad “I’m gonna get the carnitas.” He smiled at me and said “Not here mija, you have to get the milanesa…It’s the best!” One bite in I understood why we were in this garage eating torta gold! It was my first introduction to a torta de milanesa and I have been a believer ever since.
As some of you know …. that was a long time ago and many things have changed about my eating habits. I no longer eat meat, but still crave a delicious torta. I decided to make a torta de milanesa de calabacita to enjoy all the flavor without the guilt. I spread chipotle mayo onto a fresh bolillo, then pile on lettuce, milanesa de calabacita, queso fresco, avocado, and tomato. It’s so delicious, and brings me back to the old days.
Ingredients For Torta de Milanesa de Calabacita:
- 3 zucchini, cut into ¼ inch strips
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons chipotle adobo
- queso fresco, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds
- ripe avocados, cut into slices or chunks
- 3 bolillos
- Place flour, dried oregano, and salt in a shallow dish and mix to combine. Set to the side.
- Beat eggs with a fork in a dish. Set to the side.
- Pour bread crumbs into a separate dish. Set to the side.
- Dredge zucchini strip in flour mixture till fully coated.
- Quickly dip into egg.
- Press zucchini into bread crumbs.
- Place zucchini on a baking sheet to set while you encrust the next pieces of zucchini.
- Pour 1 cup vegetable oil to a frying pan over a medium high flame and allow to get hot.
- Add in as many pieces of zucchini that will fit and cook on each side for 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove zucchini from the frying pan and allow to drain on a paper towel while you fry the rest.
Make the chipotle mayo:
- Mix mayo, and chipotle adobo together for a delicious spread.
- Slice bolillo down the center and slather with chipotle mayo on both sides of bread, then add lettuce, breaded zucchini, queso fresco, avocado, and tomato.
- Cut in half and enjoy!