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Salbutes – Crispy Yucatecan Turkey Tostadas


image of Salbutes (Turkey Tostadas)

Salbutes (Turkey Tostadas)

Photo © Molly Watson

Salbutes are are everywhere in the Yucatán region of Mexico. These crisp little handheld turkey tostadas are topped with avocado, pickled onions, and cabbage. They are a great way to use leftover turkey, but are delicious enough to make from scratch, too.

Use small (4- or 6-inch) corn tortillas, since salutes are best when you can pick them up and eat them. Serve them for lunch or as a crisp and palate-refreshing snack after Thanksgiving. The sauce is hot, but nowhere near as hot as the version served in the Yucatan. To get an authentic mouth-burning heat use 1 habanero chile in place of the 2 serranos.

Note: If you prefer not to fry, skip Step 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 Salbutes


  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying (optional)
  • 8 corn tortillas (4 or 6 inch wide)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 cup chicken broth or turkey broth
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. orange juice
  • About 1/2 cup pureed or mashed black beans* (optional)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded green and/or red cabbage


  1. Put red onion in a small bowl with vinegar, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and pepper. Set aside to marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 1 week covered and chilled.
  2. In a small frying pan over high heat, add about an inch of vegetable oil and heat to 375°F. Fry tortillas, one at a time, until golden and crispy, about 30 seconds per side. Drain on cooling racks or layers of paper towels. Alternatively,
  3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add sliced white or yellow onion and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Cook, stirring, until onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add turkey and broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a steady simmer, and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes to let flavors blend.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine chiles, lime juice, orange juice, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside. If you didn't fry the tortillas, warm them up over a direct flame (as on a gas stove) or wrap them in a clean towel and microwave them for 30 seconds or until hot.
  5. To assemble: Smear about a tablespoon of black bean puree on each tortilla, if you like, then divide the turkey-onion mixture among the tortillas, top each with avocado, cabbage, and a few drained pickled red onions each. Serve with chile-citrus sauce and let each diner add it themselves.

* The black beans help the turkey mixture stay on the tostada here, but isn't necessary. You can make these easy by using canned refried black beans or mashing up canned black beans or even using a black bean dip that you like. If you want to make black beans, use this How to Cook Beans method, using just a chopped onion in the liquid for flavor. Cook until the beans are very tender and then purée them.

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