By Joe Yonan
I knew and loved taquitos long before I tried one from 7-Eleven, where they rotate along with the hot dogs (and plenty of grease) on that roller grill. At the Tex-Mex restaurants of my youth in San Angelo, Texas, they were called "flautas" for their flute shape, but they were the same thing: tortillas rolled around a filling — typically chicken or beef — and fried. Except they were crispier, lighter and, of course, fresher than the convenience-store variety.
I'm not sure why I had never made them myself until so recently. But it probably had something to do with the fact that I associate them (wrongly) with meat and that deep-frying can seem like too much of a project for quick weeknight cooking.
When I saw a recipe for black bean taquitos in the new book Hot for Food: Vegan Comfort Classics by Lauren Toyota, I knew it was time to give them a try. As it turns out, they fry perfectly well in a mere half-inch of oil, cutting down considerably on time and cleanup. And why wouldn't I love beans in a fried taco? A few of the little legumes do have a tendency to slip out when you're frying these, but if you don't sweat it, it's no big deal.
I know you can bake them, but you won't get that requisite taquito crunch. If you're going to bake them, IMHO, you might as well coat them in a sauce and call them enchiladas. But then you'd miss out on the second-best thing about taquitos: They're finger food.