Tortillas 101

11/03/2011 03:01 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Chef Iliana de la Vega of The Culinary Institute of America explains the differences between tortillas, and what dishes each type is best used for. She explains that yellow corn tortillas are very thin, so while they're good for making into chips, they're a bad candidate for tacos, since anything juicy will cause them to fall apart. Blue corn tortillas are also good for chips, and make a fairly good choice for tacos, since they're a bit sturdier. She prefers white corn tortillas for tacos, and says they're the type of tortilla most preferred in Mexico. Basically, white corn tortillas are multi-purpose: They're great for tacos, enchiladas and chips. Tosadas are baked (sometimes fried) corn tortillas that can be topped with beans, cheese and tomatoes to create a meal. Lastly, she shows us wheat flour tortillas, which are most commonly used to make burritos.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Iliana de la Vega from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: tortillas 101.

Tortillas are very important for Mexican cooking. We have different varieties of tortillas that are now widely available in every supermarket in the US. Let's talk a little bit about how they look, and what you look for when you're buying tortillas.

Here we have one kind: these tortillas are made with yellow corn, so they are a little bit more yellow. These are very, very thin, so these are perfect for making chips. The only thing you need to do is cut here and here, into fourths, and then deep fry them or bake them. This is not a good tortilla for making a taco, because it is very thin. If it has a little bit of juice, even from the meat, it will just break apart.

So that is one kind. Now this one is made with blue corn. This will be good for a taco, and even if this is thicker you can still cut it in fourths and make tortilla chips if you like. It has a slightly different flavor.

This is perhaps the most regular tortilla that we get. This is made with white corn, and this is what we like a lot in Mexico: the white corn tortilla. This is the kind we prefer. It's good for enchiladas, good for tacos, good for making just chips - anything, just warm it up, put something inside, and they're just the best thing you can ever get.

This is a smaller version of the same tortilla. If you want to make something for a cocktail party, then you want something smaller. So you put a little bit of food here and make a little taco, and it's wonderful!

Here we have some tostadas. You can buy them in a bag and they come exactly like this, they're kind of hard. You can put anything on top of it, beans or guacamole or shredded chicken - or you can just break it and use it as chips. They're just good and delicious. These are baked, not fried, and you buy them just like this.

Here we have the wheat flour tortilla. This is a big one. We use these large wheat tortillas for making burritos. You just put the filling here and then you wrap it, and you have a big burrito.

This is tortillas 101. For more great tips, log on to kitchendaily.com! Thank you very much - bon appetit!

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