Everything I once paired with rice or noodles now gets the tortilla treatment
This post originally appeared in the January 11, 2021 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
It’s been a year of tortillas for me. Chinese stir-fry, my household’s typical default meal, has found new life in tortillas that we buy in bulk and pull out from the fridge or the freezer, ready to go in a matter of seconds. I’ve combined roasted asparagus with a smattering of sour and spicy Sichuan-style shredded potatoes and a schmear of garlicky toum, or maybe it was a sticky-sweet Thai chile sauce. I’ve mixed dry-pot cauliflower with charred sweet potatoes, wok-seared sugar snap peas with caramelized onions and glass noodles tinted brown with soy sauce, broccoli stir-fry and frozen tater tots heated to a crisp in the oven, all then wrapped up.
The intractable truth that tortillas and all manner of flatbreads — roti, bing, pita, the list goes on and on — are perfect vehicles for other edible objects is not a novel revelation. But in a year of unrest and resignation, my personal tortilla journey has broken new ground, with the belated realization that nearly anything I had previously paired with rice or noodles could also be stuffed into a big flour tortilla, rolled up tight, and consumed in one tidy package, no mess no fuss.
It is quite possibly patronizing and absurd for me to provide instructions for how to put food in a tortilla, but for those who need it, I suggest using large flour tortillas — or the low-carb or spinach or multigrain or whatever variety you wish, I’m not here to judge — from your favorite brand or independent tortilla maker (this is not a project for the otherwise delicious corn tortilla, perfect for tacos). The key is to use at least two different dishes as fillings, pairing an item that’s more likely to fall out with a solid option that will stay put, and to go wild on the spreads and condiments. The interplay of flavors and textures, compressed and encased in pure, comforting carbs, makes each mouthful of these “fusion” “burritos” a perfect gustatory symphony. I’ve found particular inspiration from my latest TikTok obsession @burrito.mac, a guy in Minnesota who has been stuffing his tortillas with chicken alfredo, cheeseburgers, Hot Pockets, and even other burritos in a quest to answer the highly scientific question, “Does it burrito?”
I usually warm up the tortilla in the microwave to make it more pliable, but you could also heat it briefly on the stove. Once it’s filled with your desired ingredients and rolled into the approximate semblance of a burrito, you may decide to lightly grill your creation in a pan for a hint of crunch and to help it hold together if it’s close to bursting at the seams. I’m often too lazy to do this, but whenever I do, the payoff is big in terms of both texture and structure.
And then I eat my bastardized stir-fry burrito, decimating it so swiftly and cleanly that, minutes later, it’s as if it didn’t even exist. There are no crumbs to clean up, no extra dishes or utensils left to wash. Just the dream of what hodgepodge I’ll stick in a tortilla next time — a wrapped gift of flavors and textures, from me, to me.