Baja Tempeh Tacos

by angelika on June 22, 2013

Baja Tempeh Tacos

For Father’s Day Stephen requested Baja Tempeh Tacos from Veganomicon. It is an old favortie recipe of ours, but it had been a long time since we made them. As a matter of fact, I am slightly shocked I have never blogged these before. I think they are the best tacos that ever were. Seriously, the very best. They are a riff on Baja fish tacos, but vegan style. (although a little less than vegan when I make them) They combine smoky grilled marinated tempeh, a to die for cilantro lime yogurt crema, and a vinegar based spicy coleslaw that will have you sneaking to the fridge for leftovers in the middle of the night. Every time I’ve served these tacos, they are devoured. Even by the most dedicated carnivore.

Baja Tempeh Tacos are a labor of love the first time you make them. There are three distinct recipes and you have to time it all right, otherwise it seems like you are cooking all day. The actual tacos come together in no time, as in 5 minutes, once the ingredients are prepped. I promise you the second and third time you make them, and there will be a second and third time, they go a lot faster. Pay attention to the steps by which I prep, as in my experience it is the most efficient use of time.

tempeh tacos-4

Boil a large pot of water. Take a block of tempeh and slice it into three equal parts, the long way. Then cut those strips in half, the long way. This gives you 6 long strips. Once the water is boiling place the tempeh strips in the water with tongs and let cook for 10 minutes.

tempeh tacos-5

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large shallow dish. A glass dish is preferable, but I used a tupperware container. I was slightly concerned with the plastic heating up when the hot tempeh went into the marinade. As soon as the 10 minutes timer goes off, gently place the tempeh into the marinade. (don’t worry if a few break, it happens to the best of us)  Place the whole dish in the fridge to marinate. The longer it sits the better. I really like to make the tempeh and slaw first thing in the morning and let it sit. You can get away with only marinating an hour, but the longer it goes the better the flavor. The kind of chili powder you use will greatly effect the heat of the final tempeh. I really like a chipotle powder, but they can be spicy. I used an adobo blend for father’s day so the kids would eat it. I also doubled the tempeh and increased the marinade slightly so I would have left overs.

tempeh tacos-3

Once the tempeh is set and resting get to work on the slaw. If you have a food processor now is the time to break it out. The slaw combines cabbage and carrots. I shred the carrot first with the shredding attachement. Then switch to the slicing plate to shred the cabbage. You can use any kind of cabbage, but I LOVE the look of purple and green combined. Once pickled the purple cabbage is the prettiest color, and the tricolor effect makes the finished tacos so pretty. I used half a small head of each. Combine the cabbage with the carrot, pickled jalapeños, salt, and vinegar then weigh it all down and let it go to work. I use small plate and a large can or jar of something to press it. Let it sit at least an hour, but it can do a couple of days in the fridge. If using it the same day, I leave it on the counter. Room temp seems to convert it best.

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In a food processor combine the yogurt, lime, cilantro and salt. Whiz it up and taste it. You might want more lime or more salt. Then place it into a container and refrigerate it for at least an hour to combine flavors.

When you are ready to make dinner (lunch) heat up a grill pan. I have the Le Creuset one that fits over two burners and I love it. It makes quick work of grilling. If you don’t have a grill pan you can fry them up too. Baste the grill pan with coconut oil then lay the tempeh down and let it sit until grill marks appear. About 6 minutes. Right before flipping baste the tempeh with the marinade. I just spoon it over top. It can get smoky, so have the oven fan on. Flip and cook the tempeh on the other side. If you are doubling the recipe- preheat the oven to 200 and keep the cooked tempeh in the oven- covered in foil- while you cook the rest. Shred the tempeh a bit, by cutting it into even smaller strips.

tempeh tacos-9

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When you are ready to assemble the tacos, put all your components out with any toppings you like. We always have some avocado, diced pickled jalapeños, finely sliced radishes, and some cilantro ready. We got some corn taco slider tortillas by Mi Rancho that were perfect for these. They are smaller in size by about 1/3. You can use any kind of organic corn tortilla though. Heat them up first either in the already warmed oven, or on a dry pan. Build your tacos any way you like. I put the crema down first, then the tempeh and slaw, the toppings, and a little more crema. Then dive in and imagine yourself sitting in a beach in Baja, covered in sand, and drinking a cold beer. (drink one for me too!)

Baja Tempeh Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
slightly adapted from Veganomicon.
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ~TEMPEH AND MARINADE~
  • 1-2 8 ounce package(s) of tempeh
  • 1 ale style beer
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder (the spicier the powder the spicier the finished tempeh)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ~SLAW~
  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage (mix white and purple for nicest result)
  • 1-2 carrots, shredded
  • ⅓cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pickled jalapeños, diced
  • ~LIME CREMA~
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt (or soy yogurt to keep it vegan)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • ⅓ cup packed cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ package of corn tortillas
  • any garnish/toppings you like
Instructions
  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Take a block of tempeh and slice it into three equal parts, the long way. Then cut those strips in half, the long way. This gives you 6 long strips.
  3. Once the water is boiling place the tempeh strips in the water with tongs and let cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large shallow dish. A glass dish is preferable,
  5. As soon as the 10 minutes timer goes off, gently place the tempeh into the marinade. (don’t worry if a few break, it happens to the best of us)
  6. The longer it sits the better. I really like to make the tempeh and slaw first thing in the morning and let it sit. You can get away with only marinating an hour, but the longer it goes the better the flavor. The kind of chili powder you use will greatly effect the heat of the final tempeh.
  7. Shred the carrots and cabbage and place in a large glass bowl with the other ingredients, then mix well.
  8. Weigh the cabbage down with a plate and something heavy- then set it aside for at least an hour. In a food processor combine the yogurt, lime, cilantro and salt. Whiz it up and taste it. You might want more lime or more salt. Then place it into a container and refrigerate it for at least an hour to combine flavors.
  9. When you are ready to make dinner (lunch) heat up a grill pan. I have the Le Creuset one that fits over two burners and I love it. It makes quick work of grilling. If you don’t have a grill pan you can fry them up too.
  10. Baste the grill pan with coconut oil then lay the tempeh down and let it sit until grill marks appear. About 6 minutes.
  11. Right before flipping baste the tempeh with the marinade. I just spoon it over top. It can get smoky, so have the oven fan on.
  12. Flip and cook the tempeh on the other side.
  13. If you are doubling the recipe- preheat the oven to 200 and keep the cooked tempeh in the oven- covered in foil- while you cook the rest.
  14. Shred the tempeh a bit, by cutting it into even smaller strips.
  15. When you are ready to assemble the tacos, put all your components out with any toppings you like. We always have some avocado, diced pickled jalapeños, finely sliced radishes, and some cilantro ready.
  16. You can use any kind of organic corn tortilla though. Heat them up first either in the already warmed oven, or on a dry pan.
  17. Build your tacos any way you like. I put the crema down first, then the tempeh and slaw, the toppings, and a little more crema.

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