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1 pound shaved steak*
1 small onion or two shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ripe tomato, cored and chopped
Shredded cheese of your choice
10 (6-inch) flour tortillas
For serving: you can serve these with avocado zhug, my favorite prep (pictured) is the creamy version listed in the variants, dry chimichurri, plain sour cream, or just a squeeze of fresh lime if you want to keep it light
Season the steak with a few pinches of salt, cut up any large pieces (you want everything bite-sized), and set aside.
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Push the onions to the side and add the steak in a single layer.
Allow the steak to cook undisturbed for a couple minutes, then stir to cook the uncooked parts. Once you have a decent amount of browning on the steak (4-5 minutes total cooking time), add the chopped tomato and Shabazi and give everything a good stir to combine.
Cook until the tomatoes have broken down a bit and formed a sauce, about 3-4 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning/salt to your tastes, then set the filling aside and wipe out the pan.
Place your tortillas on a clean work surface. Sprinkle half of each the tortilla with a bit of cheese, add a few tablespoons of the cooked filling (distributing it evenly among them), then sprinkle some more cheese on top of the filling. I've found the pretty much any melting cheese works great, it comes down to what you like and what you have. The cheese helps hold the flauta together, in addition to supplying flavor.
To fold, start by folding the bottom edge over the filling, then roll them tightly with both hands. Press the flauta gently with the seam-side down and they should stay together.
Heat a thin layer of oil in the skillet you just used and fry the flautas in batches, starting with the seam-side down. I find about 60 seconds for each of the 4 sides is great, but you can go longer or shorter depending on how crispy you like them.
Remove the cooked flautas to a wire rack over an old cloth or paper towels.
Serve with any of the sauces suggested above. A side of Hawayej rice is also a great accompaniment. You can also slice them in half at a 45° angle if serving them as a party snack. This will make 20 small portions.
* I prefer ribeye for this when I can find it. Check your local Japanese or Korean grocery. The Japanese beef will be sold for sukiyaki or shabu-shabu, Korean beef will be sold for bulgogi. Shaved steak sold for cheesesteaks or other steak sandwiches works great too.
You can always deep fry flautas (I'm not usually set up in my kitchen for this). This is a traditional preparation and you can use either corn or flour tortillas. Limit the amount of filling in this case (you'll want to use about 1/3 of what's called for above). Roll them tightly as above, then deep fry in batches. The benefit is that the cooking time is greatly reduced, and it's easier to get them evenly crisp.
The filling can be changed to suit your tastes and preferences. You can substitute thin slices of boneless chicken thigh (try it with Shawarma West for a fun flavor). For a vegetarian option replace the meat with shredded summer squash seasoned with Sheba or Ararat, you'll want to cook this until it is fairly dry in the pan. And if you don't want to add cheese to the meat I've had good results adding a layer of spiced refried beans instead; Cataluña is a great option for spicing the bean.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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