TAPAS: Tequeños

Back in the day, when Marc and I were roommates in Miami, we were introduced to a unique tasty treat that was tough to find even in Latin-laden Miami: Tequeños (pronounced teh-keh-nyos). It’s this awesome salty cheese wrapped in a buttery, slightly sweet pastry dough and fried. It’s so good it embarrasses the mozzarella cheese stick. When they go to the beach, Tequeños kick sand in mozzarella cheese stick’s face and takes its girlfriend; not because Tequeños are jerks, it’s just the natural order of things, but I digress.

Every memory I have of eating these delicious treats is with great people and enjoyable moments. Marc made a quick visit to Miami during Thanksgiving week and got to rub in my face that he carved out the time to visit the bakery that makes Tequeños. So I got to Googling.

Origins

Turns out these are Venezuelan and the name comes from the town they originated: Teques. There they slice salty queso blanco into sticks, wrap them in strips of handmade dough and fry them in hot oil for just a minute or so. The dough’s buttery texture blisters slightly, making for a crispy crust around soft salty cheese. It’s a great treat and when I learned how easy it was to make I had to share it. It’s so easy, it barely merits a recipe.

How-To’s

Click the link below to see Chef Juan Carlos Da Silva (Salvatore Bar & Tapas in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico) demonstrate the technique for enrollando and wrapping up the cheese in a strip of dough for their Tequeños. If you don’t speak Spanish, no worries, just jump to 2:35 to see how he wraps the strip of dough around the cheese to ensure the cheese doesn’t leak out while frying.

Watch

Oh, and for a REALLY easy way out, rather than making your own dough, you can use refrigerated crescent roll dough. In my testing I used The Fresh Market’s Immaculate brand crescent rolls and while they were just a touch sweeter than I’d have liked they were still very good.

Dipping Sauce

To me the Tequeño stands on its own, needing no dipping sauce. But if you want something to take this to another level, Serious Eats’ Joshua Bousel posted a really tasty traditional Venezuelan Guasacaca that he dips Tequeños in; check it out here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/02/sauced-guasacaca.html

 

Tequeños
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Melted salty queso blanco, wrapped in a sweet buttery dough, then fried makes an awesome snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4 - 6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. queso blanco
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 tbsp. butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Cut cheese into ¼" X ¼" sticks (length up to you, needs to accommodate the frying space), place in refrigerator until needed.
  2. Add the flour, salt, sugar, and butter to a large bowl or food processor.
  3. Combine these ingredients until buttery crumbs are smaller than a pea.
  4. Add the water and egg, mix until wet and dry ingredients marry (if using food processor, do this step by hand)
  5. Rest dough ball in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out dough until about ⅛" thick then cut into long strips about ¾" wide.
  7. Pull cheese from refrigerator.
  8. Wrap cheese with dough strips so that no cheese can peek out -- begin lengthwise to cover all four sides with dough, then wind the remaining dough strip around and around, overlapping the dough (see the video above in the post for a great demo).
  9. Heat oil in saucepan on medium-high to high.
  10. CAREFULLY place one or two Tequeños (no more than two) into the hot oil, watch closely.
  11. Turn as dough browns; when dough is light brown all around, remove Tequeños from oil.
  12. Set on paper towels to dry.
Photograph: Daniel Pantoja

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