Double Decker Tofu Tacos
I LOVE Mexican food. Like, so much. I love how it uses fresh ingredients to create unique flavor and texture combinations that come together to make you eat more than you should. When I came to China I was surprised to see dishes that seemed a bit similar to Mexican food: scrambled eggs and tomato, cilantro on everything, fried wonton strips that reminded my of tortilla chips, and all sorts of flat pancakes that resembled tortillas.
The trendy Asian-Latin combos that have been popping up around the world, at places like the hugely popular Korean taco food truck run by Ray Choi in L.A., and even at Palms L.A. Kitchen and Bar in Beijing, are nothing new. It’s been hundreds of years in the making with conquering Spaniards, social strife and migration flinging spices and culinary secrets across the globe.
For me, the love of Latin food stems from growing up with close family friends who cooked authentic Mexican food that everyone gathered around when we all got together. I always went for the tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. I love how compact they are and how easily customizable they are, making it an easy meal to feed the family.
So, here’s my plant-based take on the amazing love affair between Asian and Latin food.
6 soft flour tortillas
6 yellow corn tortillas or 6 pre-made hard taco shells
Oil for frying if not using pre-made shells
1 can vegan friendly refried beans or 1.5 C mashed kidney beans with a bit of water added to make a paste (warmed right before assembly)
3/4 C pumpkin coconut cheeze sauce (warmed right before taco assembly)
400g super firm tofu, cut into medium cubes (if using packaged, remove as much excess liquid as possible)
1-2 tsp chili powder (less if feeding to heat sensitive kids or adults, more for those who like it hot)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs tomato paste
2 dashes liquid smoke (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
salsa or simple pico de gallo made with diced tomatoes, diced onions, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper
jalapeño cream sauce (recipe below)
chopped cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
1. Heat wok or frying pan over medium high heat and add a bit of cooking oil. Add tofu chunks and cook on all sides, stirring and turning gently until all sides are golden brown.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add in tomato paste, spices, and liquid smoke (if using) and mix thoroughly. Add 1 tbs of water if too dry to combine easily. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, ensuring tofu prices are completely coated with spice and tomato paste mixture. Reduce heat if necessary so as not to burn. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
3. Clean out wok or frying pan and add about 2 inches of oil for frying (PRO TIP-using a wok requires less oil). Heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is ready, carefully place half of a yellow corn tortilla into the oil and hold the other side out of the oil until the frying side is crispy. I used wooden chopsticks but you can also use tongs. Carefully flip the corn tortilla and place the other half in the oil. Make sure not to let the edges get too close together or they will harden and you won’t be able to stuff them with all the goods later. If you have access to hard taco shells you can skip this step and use those instead. Now that I have learned how to do this I prefer homemade!
4. Plate soft flour tortillas and cover with a moist towel. Microwave for 30-40 seconds to steam and soften.
5. Using a large cutting board or clean work surface, put down one flour tortilla and evenly spread about 2 tbs of refried or kidney beans on it, drizzle about 2 tbs of the pumpkin coconut cheeze on top. Add hard corn tortilla and fill with about 3 tbs spiced tofu chunks and add other toppings as desired. Repeat with remaining tacos.
6. Once tacos are complete and plated, drizzle with jalapeño cream sauce and top with chopped cilantro. If you’re EXTRA squeeze with fresh lime.
Jalapeño Cream Sauce
200g silken tofu
1 heaping tbs sliced pickled jalapeño
2 tsp lime juice (sub with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Add all ingredients to high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth
2. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for 2-3 days