When The Chips Are Down

Recipe and photos by Brandon Matzek

We're all familiar with tacos, elote (Spanish for "corn on the cob") and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Now, there's another type of Mexican street food that's gaining some popularity stateside: Tostilocos.

Typically, this on-the-go snack is made by cutting open a bag of flavored corn chips and pilingon toppings such as pickled pig skin, tamarind candies, Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, lime juice, chamoy (savory sauce) and hot sauce. This loco ("crazy," you had to know that one) combination of ingredients creates seriously satisfying contrasts in flavor and texture. The chips are crunchy; the toppings are soft; and the sauces are sweet, salty and spicy.

This recipe for Bacon Tostilocos deviates from tradition in two ways. First, I've substituted thin strips of smoky bacon for the pickled pig skin. Second, I've included quick pickled cucumber and red onion to add another note of sweet, sour and salt. You can easily make these pickles at home in an hour, most of which is wait time.

The fully assembled snack is addicting. Serve it on a plate as a fun appetizer at a party or enjoy it at the beach straight from the bag.

There's no official recipe for Tostilocos, so I urge you to play around with the ingredients outlined below. Precision is needed for the pickles, but you can adjust or omit almost any ingredient for the Tostilocos. I purchased all ingredients at Pancho Villa's Mexican Market in Normal Heights.

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Bacon Tostilocos

Ingredients

For the quick pickles:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
Half of 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Half of 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into half moons

For the Tostilocos:
1 small bag (3.7 oz) salsa verde flavored chips
1 heaping tablespoon tamarind candies, plus more to taste
1 heaping tablespoon Japanese peanuts, plus more to taste
3 slices of bacon (cooked through but still pliable), thinly sliced
Quarter of 1 small jicama, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
Lime wedges, for serving
Chamoy, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving (Tapatio or the like)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Process

Quick pickle. Add lime juice, oregano, salt and sugar to a small bowl, whisking to combine. Add sliced onion and cucumber, tossing in the pickling liquid. Let sit for one to three hours at room temperature, tossing every 20 minutes for the first hour. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Stack and serve. Arrange a layer of chips on a large plate. Scatter some of the pickled onion and cucumber, candies, peanuts, bacon, and jicama over top. Add another layer of chips and toppings. Dress the entire plate with freshly squeezed lime juice, chamoy and hot sauce to taste. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro.

On the go. To enjoy these Tostilocos on the go, open the bag of chips by slitting through one of the long sides. Add toppings and flavorings directly to the bag. Be sure to bring extra napkins.

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