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Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados

Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados are a yummy double-fried taco filled with creamy refried beans served with a cool avocado dip.

fried taco smashed by a fork on a white plate.

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A Fried Food Revival

In Tucson there is a famous long-standing Southside Mexican taco stand called Tacos Apson.  I love this restaurant and really missed it when we moved further away.

Lucky for me, they recently opened a new location on the northside, only 15 minutes away!

Since I have been able to more frequently visit, I have discovered my favorite taco of all time – the Taco Chino!

I don’t know why it’s called that, but I love it so much I decided to try to recreate it and rename it as well.  What I ended up with turned out to be perfect for a dysphagia diet.

Because these tacos are fried twice, they end up with the delicious fried flavor, but with less of the crunch, making them perfect for the Level 7: Easy to Chew diet.

Level 7: Easy to Chew

Level 7: Easy to Chew is appropriate for individuals who can manage chewing and processing foods of any size without tiring across the meal. Because this level allows pieces of any size, individuals who are at a higher choking risk are typically not appropriate for this level. At Level 7, most everyday foods are allowed, but must be soft and tender. This includes mixed consistency foods, such as cereal and milk or soup with chunks or noodles, but cannot include hard, tough, chewy, fibrous, or crumbly bits.

Foods at this level must still be mashable under pressure. Although bite size is not predetermined, choose a sample size that is 15mm square for adults or 8mm square for children when testing the sample. The pressure from a fork or spoon must be able to mash the pieces easily; this is called the Fork Pressure or Spoon Pressure Test. In these tests, the utensil must be able to easily cut through or break apart the food using only the side of the utensil. When mashing the sample to test, only use as much pressure as causes your thumbnail or fingernail to blanche white. After mashing, the food must not return to its original shape. We recommend watching IDDSI’s Youtube video of the Fork Pressure and Spoon Pressure Test before you cook as well as during the testing of your final modified portion.

Always test your food before serving to ensure that it meets all the IDDSI testing guidelines.

multiple fried tacos piled on a white plate on a wood background.

Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados

Making Tacos Frijolados is well worth the effort, and after the first time you will see how easy they are; however they do have several steps.

These tacos have a wet, shallow fry as well as a dry fry at the end. This is a strategy that I learned from my boyfriend’s mom.

First, you will assemble the dipping sauce because I can’t stop myself from eating the tacos immediately, so it’s just easier to already have it done.

This avocado dip includes cottage cheese, which is fairly common to include in guacamole here in Arizona. Feel free to sub out sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

After making the avocado dip you will blend together your refried beans, sour cream, and hot sauce.

If you have someone dining with you who has a sensitive stomach, feel free to leave out the hot sauce for a few portions, or the entire recipe.

Now we are on to the shallow, first fry. This is where things start to get a little trickier.

I recommend getting out your smallest frying pan that one tortilla can lay flat within.

Pour in about 1/3 cup of canola oil, you will need more for a larger pan. The oil must cover the entire bottom of the pan and be as tall as the height of a tortilla.

Let the oil heat up.  If you are going to try any tortillas without chili powder, you can do so now.

After frying any plain tortillas, you will add chili powder and complete the shallow fry.  Watch closely to make sure the chili powder does not burn.

Some tortillas will puff up as shown below, others will not; this depends on how they were constructed and what grains are used.

small tortilla puffed up frying in orange frying pan on electric stove.
small tortilla frying in chili oil in orange pan on white stove.

If you have two or more sets of hands, the second person can begin filling tortillas while the first person continues the shallow fry.  Otherwise, you can wait until all the tortillas have completed the shallow fry and fill them all at the same time.

When filling the tortillas, use slightly less bean filling than you expect.  The tacos will flatten, and if there is too much filling it will ooze out the edges and you may lose some delicious flavor.

three filled tacos with one open to reveal filling on a white plate.

Once the majority of the tortillas are filled, you will want to get out your largest frying pan and begin heating it. Do not add any oil.

This fry is a dry fry, and it will work on the residual chili oil on the tacos.

Lay out as many filled tacos as will fit in your frying pan with some space in between.  Fry each taco only about 2-5 seconds until lightly crisped.  Make sure your pan is hot or this will not be enough time.

Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados

Serve tacos immediately with avocado dip.  I don’t know if these would be good leftover, there are never any left in my house.

If you expect to have some leftover, I would wait and complete the second dry fry immediately before serving.

Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados FAQs

What if I cannot have spicy food?

These tacos are still delicious if you omit the hot sauce from the taco filling and the chili oil from the shallow fry.

Why did you name them Tacos Frijolados?

I didn’t like the restaurant’s title of Tacos Chino, and I couldn’t figure out where it came from. My boyfriend recommended this hilarious Spanish pun combining “fried” and “beans.”

Are fried foods really considered Level 7: Easy to Chew?

Great question! Foods that are fried would be allowed on Level 7: Easy to Chew as long as they pass the Fork Pressure Test. I would check specifically foods with breading, because the breading make break off in pieces during testing and not give a true result. I would expect that foods with no breading, such as these Tacos Frijolados, and foods with thinner breading (like a beer batter versus a panko batter) would be more likely to pass this test and thus be considered Level 7: Easy to Chew.

We want to hear from you!

If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, please comment below! If you loved this recipe, check out our other Level 7: Easy to Chew recipes, or learn more about us!

fried taco smashed by a fork on a white plate.
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Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados

Level 7: Easy to Chew Tacos Frijolados are a yummy double-fried taco filled with creamy refried beans served with a cool avocado dip.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Level 7: Easy to Chew
Servings: 3 people, 4 tacos each

Equipment

Ingredients

For the tacos:

  • 8 ounces canned refried beans or make Louisa’s homemade refried beans
  • ¼ cup sour cream 60 grams
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce 16 grams (optional)
  • 12 small flour tortillas 4-5 inches in diameter

To fry:

  • cup canola oil 80 grams
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

Avocado Dip:

  • 2 medium avocados 200 grams
  • cup cottage cheese 80 grams
  • 1 ½ tablespoon lime juice 24 grams
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 1.5 grams

Instructions

Prepare the avocado dip:

  • Slice open the avocados and remove the seeds.
  • Score the flesh into cubes and scrape out with a spoon into the blender.
  • Add cottage cheese, lime juice, and salt to the blender.
  • Blend together until smooth. Season with additional salt or lime juice to taste.
  • Set aside.

Prepare the taco filling:

  • Combine refried beans, sour cream, and hot sauce (optional) in the blender.
  • Blend together until smooth.
  • Set aside.

Fry the tortillas in chili oil:

  • Heat a small frying pan (mine was 8 inches in diameter) over medium-high heat.
  • Add canola oil. Add chili powder once the oil is hot. See Note 1.
  • Place one tortilla at a time into the hot oil and fry quickly until it softens, about 2-5 seconds. Flip the tortilla over and fry on the second side. Use tongs.
  • Remove the tortilla from the oil and place on a plate. Begin frying the next tortilla. See Note 2 if you have another set of hands.
  • Continue frying all remaining tortillas. See Note 3.

Fill the tortillas:

  • Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the taco filling on one half of each tortilla and spread to the edge.
  • Fold the plain half of the tortilla over and press together gently.
  • Set filled taco aside and finish filling all tortillas.

Dry-fry the tacos:

  • Heat a larger frying pan over medium heat. Do not add any oil.
  • Place as many filled tacos in the frying pan as will fit with some space remaining in between.
  • Fry the filled tacos on each side for 2-5 seconds until lightly crisped.
  • Remove the tacos from the pan and place on a plate. Lightly sprinkle some coarse salt on top to finish. Cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Repeat with remaining tacos until all have been fried.
  • Serve immediately with avocado dip. Remember to test the finished product before serving to ensure that it meets Level 7: Easy to Chew requirements: the food must be able to be cut with the side of a fork, and must pass the Fork Pressure Test.

Notes

Note 1:
  • If you want to make some tortillas without chili powder for a sensitive-stomach guest, you can fry a few tortillas for them first, just watch that your oil does not get too hot when you move on to step 3 and the chili powder
  • You may need additional canola oil if your pan is larger, oil must cover the entire bottom of the pan, but only to the height of the tortilla. 
  • Do not add the chili powder early as it may burn in the pan if it sits too long.
  • Use tongs to flip the tortillas unless you are a Hispanic abuela and have heat-proof hands.
Note 2:
  • If you have a second set of hands, they can begin filling the tortillas while you are frying to save time.
Note 3:
  • Watch to make sure your chili powder does not burn.
  • When all the chili powder has turned black, you will need to replace the oil and chili powder; if some red remains, it is still ok to use. You may need to add additional oil while frying as well.
  • As written, ⅓ cup canola oil was just enough for 12 tacos; but this may differ based on brand and size of tortilla.
  • Expect to replace the oil at least once if making a larger batch or working in a larger pan.

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