These taco tongs are sold under by a variety of places under several different names, with varying prices, and the reviews I’ve read show varying results. However, they appear to all be the same set from the same manufacturer (I haven’t verified this, I’m just going by the images they use). I bought a pair and here are my experiences, your milage may vary.
When I first received the taco tongs – taco press – taco form whatever you want to call them, the spread on them was wider than what I prefer, so I did modify them slightly by bending them gently inward about 10 degrees from stock. I wouldn’t advice bending them in too sharply, but this simple modification seems to have improved my pair.
Notice that one side sits flat in the pan, and one side sticks up. This has apparently caused much confusion in how to use them (based on several of the reviews I’ve read). I’m not claiming how I use them is correct or safe, but I have success making taco shells using the following method:
- Taco tongs
- Taco size corn tortillas
- Meat filling
Use a skillet big enough that the bottom of the tongs can lay flat along the bottom of the pan. My personal preference is for a heavy cast iron skillet.
Put about a 1/2″ (give or take) of oil in the skillet, doesn’t have to be exact.
Heat the oil to approximately 350 degrees F.
Open the jaws of the tongs and insert a tortilla. Gently close the jaws just enough to hold the tortilla in place in a taco shape. Do not mash the jaws closed or the tortilla will tend to break along the bend. The intent should be to hold the tortilla in place with the correct shape, and force beyond that is counterproductive. If the tortillas aren’t flexible enough, try warming them first to make them more pliable.
Place the flat side of the tongs (holding the tortilla) down to rest in the oil on the bottom of the skillet.
The boiling point of the moisture inside the tortilla is about 212 F, since the oil is 350 F, the moisture inside the tortilla will rapidly start to turn into steam, and bubble up out of the oil to be released into the air. When the tortilla is first put into the oil it has the most moisture, so will bubble the most.
The bubbles will gradually start to subside, and after about a minute there will be noticeably less bubbles forming. How long it will take each to be done will depend on how much moisture is in the starting tortillas, and how crunchy you want the final taco shells to be. If you wait unless it isn’t making any bubbles anymore, chances are they are burnt so stop before then. For best results judge doneness by the amount of bubbles being released and by color rather than by timing (unless you make them often enough to have that dialed in).
Remove from the oil, and allow the excess oil on the tortilla to drain back into the pan. Be vary careful as at this point, the pan is hot, the oil is hot, the tongs are hot and the bottom half of the taco shell is hot.
At this point the bottom half of the taco shell is cooked, but the top half (the half that sticks up) isn’t. This next step takes a little finesse, and should be done carefully to avoid burning yourself. Open the jaws of the tongs over a rack or plate, removing the shell from the tongs. Carefully grasp just the edge tip of the uncooked half of the shell (or use some implement to do so), turn the shell around and place back in the tongs, this time with the uncooked side of the tortilla facing down. Then return to the oil as before and cook the other side, completing the taco shell.
As each is finished, invert the taco shells on a rack so they look like little tents, and continue for each of the taco shells desired.
American style taco filling can be prepared in advance using a variety of recipes. I personally like a combination of ground meat, taco spices, diced onions and chopped jalapeño peppers, but chicken or shredded beef is also popular. Put a couple tablespoons of the prepared filling into the bottom of each taco shell.
Then top each with your choice of toppings. Popular additions include cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced olives, salsa, and/or a dollop of sour cream.
I hope you found the above helpful. Below is a link to amazon, it doesn’t cost you any more, but I get a few cents if you use the link to make your purchase.