As with Asian chefs and rice, as well as European chefs and bread, Mexican cooks have come up with myriad ways to use up tortillas when they are past their prime. Old corn tortillas become leathery, but you can soften them on a griddle or crisp them by frying. These two recipes use the latter technique.

Garlic chicken tostadas with cabbage, salsa, crushed avocado and chicken (or pork) cracklings

A tostada refers to a fried corn tortilla, but many people associate the word with a dish of fried tortilla topped with vegetables, meat and salsa.

I cook chicken thighs with the skin on, which keeps the meat moist. But sometimes, after the thighs are cooked, I strip off the skin and fry it, to make chicken cracklings. You can also buy chicken cracklings at shops specialising in Thai products. They are not as easy to find as pork crack­lings, which make a good substitute.

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
About 15ml olive oil

6 garlic cloves

Fine sea salt

Oil, for frying

For the salsa:
250 grams tomatoes (use the small, sweet oval or pear-shaped tomatoes sold by fruit vendors)

1-2 shallots

1-2 garlic cloves

½ a jalapeño chilli, or to taste

About 20 grams fresh coriander

About 10ml fresh lime juice, or to taste

For the filling:
½ a small head green cabbage

2 ripe avocados

100 grams sour cream

To serve:
6-8 corn tortillas

Lime wedges

1 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Sprinkle fine sea salt over the chicken thighs, using more on the meat side and less on the skin. Leave for 15 minutes. Roughly chop six garlic cloves, then scatter them over the chicken. Drizzle with 15ml of olive oil and mix well. Lay the chicken pieces (with the garlic) skin-side up in a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until done. Cool to room temperature.

2 Strip the skin from the chicken. Cut the skin into 5mm-wide strips. Pour oil to a depth of about 1cm into a medium-sized skillet and heat over a medium flame to 170 degrees. Fry the chicken skin until crisp and medium brown, then drain on paper towels. Shred the chicken meat.

3 Place the skillet used to fry the skin back over a medium flame and heat the oil to 170 degrees. Fry the tortillas one at a time until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels.

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4 Make the salsa. Dice the tomatoes and cut the shallots in half and thinly slice them. Mince the garlic and jalapeño chilli and roughly chop the coriander. Mix these ingredients together, then add the lime juice and season to taste with salt.

5 Finely shred the cabbage. Remove the avocado flesh from the skin. Use a fork to crush the flesh with some salt. Mix the sour cream with a little warm water, until it is thin enough to be drizzled.

6 Lay the tortillas on dinner plates and smear with a thin layer of crushed avocado. Top with a handful of cabbage, then add some of the shredded chicken meat. Spoon some of the salsa on top, then drizzle with sour cream. Add several pieces of chicken (or pork) cracklings, then serve the tostadas with lime wedges.

Nachos with black beans, salsa and guacamole

The problem most restaurants have when making nachos is that they pile the ingredients too high, which means the tortilla chips on the bottom don’t get as much of the toppings as those closer to the surface. Nachos should be made low and wide, which gives more surface area so the chips get an even amount of topping.

8-10 corn tortillas
Oil, for frying

1 can of cooked black beans

250 grams tomatoes (use the small, sweet oval or pear-shaped tomatoes sold by fruit vendors)

1-2 shallots

2 garlic cloves, divided

½ a jalapeño chilli, or to taste

About 20 grams fresh coriander

About 10ml fresh lime juice, or to taste

2 avocados

About 150 grams cheddar cheese, shredded

Pickled sliced jalapeño chillies, drained

Sour cream, as needed

Craving Mexican food? Susan Jung has a recipe for you

1 Stack the tortillas, then use a sharp, long-bladed knife to cut them into wedges. Pour oil to a depth of about 4cm in a medium-sized pan and heat to 170 to 180 degrees. Fry the tortillas in batches until crisp and medium brown, then drain on paper towels.

2 Empty the can of black beans into a colander, rinse well, then put them into a medium-sized saucepan. Finely mince a garlic clove and add it to the pan with about 60ml of water and a light sprinkling of salt. Heat over a medium flame until simmering, then lower the heat and cook until the water is absorbed.

3 Use the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, jalapeño chilli, coriander and lime juice to make the salsa as in the first recipe, and season to taste with salt. Remove the avocado flesh from the skin. Crush the flesh with a fork, then mix in about a quarter of the salsa and some salt to taste.

4 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spread the fried chips in a wide serving dish and add the black beans (you might not need all of them). Spread the shredded cheese on top and dot with the pickled jalapeños. Bake at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven then spoon some of the salsa, guacamole and sour cream on top. Serve immediately, with any remaining salsa and guacamole on the side.