It’s easy to see why salbutes are one of the most popular snacks of the Yucatan Peninsula. Crunchy fried tortilla, silky black bean puree, spicy habanero chilli and puckering pickled onions, it’s a combination that turns a few simple ingredients into the perfect party snack. Fry the tortillas as close to serving as possible, as they tend to lose their crispness if left for too long.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (21 votes)


  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 garlic clove, whole
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp duck fat or vegetable oil
  • salt

Pickled red onion

  • 2 small red onions, sliced into 3 mm thick rings
  • 50 ml cup lime juice
  • ½ habanero chilli, seeds removed left whole
  • ½ tsp salt

Cabbage salad

  • 1 cup cabbage, very finely shredded
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 100 ml white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • fresh chopped coriander

To serve

  • 480 g prepared masa harina (see Note)
  • 1 litre vegetable oil
  • 4 boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place the beans, water and garlic in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1–1 ½ hours until the beans are tender. Drain, reserving the water. Transfer the beans to a blender with 250 ml reserved water. Blend until smooth, adding enough of the reserved water to achieve a consistency of thick pumpkin soup. Season to taste.

Heat the duck fat or oil in a large frying pan until smoking. Carefully add the bean paste, reduce the heat to medium-low and fry, without stirring, for 4–5 minutes until the paste starts to thicken. Cook, stirring, for a further 1–2 minutes if necessary, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the paste looks spreadable. Check the seasoning and set aside.

 Meanwhile, place the red onions in bowl, cover with boiling water and stand for 1 minute. Drain. Add the lime juice, chilli and salt. Toss to combine and set aside for 1 hour to pickle. Drain before using.

 To make the cabbage salad, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavours to meld.

 To make the salbutes, divide the masa into 16 balls (about 30 g each) and flatten using a tortilla press. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan to 180°C. Cook tortillas, 1 or 2 at a time, for 45–60 seconds until lightly golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel.

To serve, spread 2 tablespoons of black bean paste on the salbutes, top with egg, avocado and tomato. Serve with the cabbage salad and pickled onions.



• Masa harina is available from Latin food stores and some international delicatessens. Follow packet instructions to prepare the dough.


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Coloured glassware from Market Import; tiles from Di Lorenzo.