A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 02, 2008
Salbutes

Salbutes and panuchos are popular antojitos (appetizers or snacks) in the Yucatan area of Mexico. Salbutes are small, thick tortillas, deep-fried, and then topped with shredded meat and vegetables. Panuchas are similar but are also topped with beans. Habanero chiles are usually added to both salbutes and panuchos.

“Salbutes” are cited in Mexican restaurants in the United States from the 1980s.


“Mexican Hot...Or Not” by Karen Hursh Graber
Salbutes Yucatecos:
Yucatecan Salbutes
These delicious antojitos, sold in markets in Merida and other peninsula towns, are small, thick tortillas with a variety of toppings, including the local versions of moles, made with ground spice mixtures called called recados. The most popular topping of all is shredded, cooked turkey or chicken, a pure white, heat-resistant breed of which the yucatecos eat in abundance. Salbutes, like just about any other dish in the Yucatan except dessert, are always served with pickled red onions (below.) The other requisite condiment, chile habanero, should be served on the side and approached with caution. Known as the hottest chile in Mexico, canned chile habanero can be found in the Mexican section of US supermarkets, or at smaller stores in Mexican neighborhoods, under the brand name La Anita.

Ingredients:
1 pound masa (your favorite recipe or see Basic Corn Masa, Mexico Connect, August 2001)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
lard or corn oil for frying
1 cup shredded cabbage or lettuce
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded turkey or chicken
pickled red onions (below)
sliced tomatoes
habanero chiles in vinaigrette (...)

Glossary - Mexican food recipes, cooking terms
Salbutes Tortilla masa, often with flour added, is formed into a small, fairly thick tortilla, fried until crisp and light, then topped with shredded meat and vegetables. A specialty of the Yucatan.

Yucatan Cuisine
PANUCHOS AND SALBUTES
Pre-cooked tortilla with shredded chicken and garnished with lettuce and onion. The difference between panuchos and salbutes is that the first has refried beans inside the tortilla.

Wikipedia: Mérida, Yucatán
Yucatecan food is its own unique style, different from the rest of Mexico in many ways. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, and Caribbean, Mexican and European, and Middle Eastern cultures.

There are many regional dishes. Some of them are:
(...)
Salbutes and Panuchos. Salbutes are soft, cooked tortillas with lettuce, tomato, turkey and avocado on top. Panuchos feature fried tortillas filled with black beans, and topped with turkey or chicken, lettuce, avocado and pickled onions. Habanero chiles accompany most dishes, either in solid or purée form, along with fresh limes and corn tortillas.

Rick Bayless - Frontera Grill (Chicago, IL)
Salbutes
Recipe from Season 5 of Mexico--One Plate at a Time
Makes 12 salbutes, serving 4 as a light main course, 6 as an appetizer

Ingredients
For the corn masa cakes:
¾ pound fresh masa
OR 1 ¼ cups powdered masa harina for tortillas mixed with a generous ¾ cup hot tap water
¼ cup all-purpose flour (1/3 cup if using masa harina)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
For the toppings:
2 large leaves of green leaf lettuce, each torn into 6 pieces
12 thin slices cucumber or tomato
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into slices
About 2 cups shredded chicken in escabeche (recipe follows)
For finishing the salbutes:
Vegetable oil to the depth of ¾ inch

Google Books
Eating in Mexico
by Amando Farga
Mexican Restaurant Association
1963
Pg. 105:
...papatzul, pipian of venison, turkey with black stuffing, salbutes, and a variety of desserts.

15 September 1985, Dallas (TX) Morning News:
Other specialties include caracol (giant conch), salbutes (puffed tortillas), lobster, ...

26 June 1986, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Yucatana at Balo’s Place” by martin Zimmerman, food section, pg. 33:
Share this with a friend and add some panuchos or salbutes for variety. The panuchos—deep fried tortillas stuffed with black beans and covered with shredded meat or chicken and lettuce—or salbutes (similar, but on an open-face steamed tortilla) are addictive at only $1 each. The Yucatan combination dinner includes two salbutes, two panuchos and two tamalitos for $6; it is a good sampler for two diners when ordered with the puchero.

Google Groups: soc.culture.mexican
Newsgroups: soc.culture.mexican
From: (Gabriel Villalobos)
Date: 11 Sep 91 22:10:49 GMT
Local: Wed, Sep 11 1991 5:10 pm
Subject: Re: The “REAL” Mexico

>Also someone suggested about visiting the mercados.  You get some of the
>best food at these places.  In Oaxaca you’ll find the best chocolate caliente and
>in Merida try some “Salbutes”.  (Some real mezcal too.)

Google Books
A Guide to Ethnic Food in Los Angeles
by Linda Burum
New York, NY: HarperCollins
1992
Pg. 60:
Salbutes are puffy masa cakes filled with black beans or turkey.

Google Books
Mexico, 1995
by Berkeley Travel Staff
Fodor’s Travel Publications
1994
Pg. 419:
In front of the plaza are three loncherias, where you can get tortas for $1, salbutes and panuchos for 65c, and main dishes for about $4.50.

Google Books
Frommer’s Guide to Mexico on Forty-Five Dollars a Day
by Marita Adair
Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc.
1994
Pg. 528:
Then there are the salbutes (sopes filled with shredded pork, lettuce, pickled onion, and avocado), ...

Google Books
Mexico: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit
by John Noble
Lonely Planet Publications
1995
Pg. 870:
Salbutes - Yucatan’s favourite snack: a hand-made tortilla, fried, then topped with shredded turkey, ...

Google Books
A Cook’s Tour of Mexico:
Authentic Recipes from the Country’s Best Open-Air Markets, City Fondas, and Home Kitchens
by Nancy Zaslavsky
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1995
Pg. 310:
Rosario Chavez’s
Panuchos Crisp Tortillas with Black Beans and Garnishes
MERIDA AND VALLADOLID’S MARKET FONDAS ARE PRIME SOURCES for Yucatan’s favorite snack. Panuchos are enjoyed all day long with, or without, meat toppings. My friend Rosario says, “There are rich and poor panuchos—those with meat and lettuce piled high, and simple bean-filled tortillas for those one-peso days.” Rich or poor, these are scrumptious.
(...)
8 corn tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter and on the thick side
1 cup “Frijoles Negros Yucatecos” (page 250), the paste should be warm
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 habanero chiles, halved
(...)
Variation: Salbutes are another antojito just as popular as panuchos. Tiny puffed tortillas are deep fried and not filled with beans but always topped with meats and lettuce.

Google Groups: austin.food
Newsgroups: austin.food
From: (Victor M. Martinez)
Date: 15 May 2001 15:22:21 GMT
Local: Tues, May 15 2001 10:22 am
Subject: Re: I give up! Food question.... 

ps-> to add to the confusion, there’s also sopes, garnachas, panuchos, picadas, salbutes, tlacoyos, molotes, pambazos, etc. all made with masa.

September 2003, Nation’s Restaurant News, “Yucatecan cusine harmonizes a symphony of flavors” by Amy Spector, pp. 18+:
He adds that panuchos, crisped tortillas filled with black bean puree, and salbutes, similar disks filled with meat, were once the trade of home cooks who prepared their daily allotment of the snacks and sold them outside their homes. Cetina says that today in the Yucatan’s principal cities, one must hunt to find a panucho amid the U.S. fast-food chain outlets that have sprung up.

Cetina prepares his panuchos by first cooking the corn masa disk on a cast-iron griddle, allowing it to inflate before setting it aside to cool. The tortilla then is slit open, filled, reassembled and fried. Both panuchos and salbutes are topped with shaved lettuce, turkey, pickled onions, a fresh slice of tomato and a slice of avocado. The customer adds habanero salsa to taste, folds the item over and consumes by giant mouthfuls.

Google Groups: alt.food.mexican-cooking
Newsgroups: alt.food.mexican-cooking
From: “Smac”
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 09:12:04 -0600
Local: Mon, Dec 15 2003 10:12 am
Subject: Re: Salbute?

“The word antojito comes from the Spanish word antojo, which means whim.”
Antojito is not an entrée or a specific recipe but a (LARGE) category of Mexican dishes (based on tortillas) encompassing:
Burritos, Chimichangas, Enchiladas, Entomatadas, Flautas, Garnachas, Gorditas, Molotes, Panuchos, Papadzules, Pellizcadas, Quesadillas,
Salbutes - “Tortilla masa, often with flour added, is formed into a small, fairly thick tortilla, fried until crisp and light, then topped with shredded meat and vegetables. A specialty of the Yucatan”,
Sopes, Tacos (of all sorts), Tamales, Taquitos, Tlacoyos and Tortas compuestas.

November 2006, Sunset magazine, pg. 154:
Yucatecan tostadas (salbutes)
Salbutes-crisp little handheld tortillas topped with shredded turkey, avocado, pickled onions, and cabbage or lettuce-are a popular street food in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Serve them for lunch or as a crisp and palate-refreshing snack after Thanksgiving. The sauce is quite hot, so use sparingly. (If you love heat, use 1 habanera chile, as is done in the Yucatan, instead of the 2 serranos.)

PREP AND COOK TIME 45 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
NOTES Salbutes are best served on 4- to 6-in. tortillas, which makes them much easier to pick up and eat. Look for the tortillas in large packs (they freeze well) at Latin American markets or in supermarkets with substantial Latin-food departments. Use leftover pickled red onion on sandwiches or salads.

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
8 corn tortillas (4 in. or 6 in.)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
½ tsp. oregano
2 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 cup chicken broth
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 avocado, sliced
About 1 ½ cups shredded green and/or red cabbage (...)

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