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Baja Tempeh Taco

What better way to practice for a lifetime of food devotion than hosting a small dinner party with good friends?

Emily enjoys a taco.

Liz and Luke look parallel at this angle.

Check out Liz’s photo of the dinner party here at her nifty photo blog: http://365inohten.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/15-jan-2010/

I’ve been eyeing the Baja Tempeh Taco recipe in the Veganomicon for over a year. I mostly flipped to the recipe, read through it, and gave up because I never had quite all the ingredients. It always seemed like something too expansive to just make for myself—something about assembling and making the tempeh, the lime crema, and the taco “slaw.” Not to mention the fact that half these would need to be marinated for a minimum of an hour, and my intuition telling me this dish would not be complete without a complimentary side, and of course, guacamole (see earlier post on my affection for avocados). Finally the timing was perfect. 1) I happen to be vegan right now 2) Had promised friends with appreciative pallets I would feed them 3) I really did ALMOST have all the ingredients 4) Friday is the perfect time for friends and a feast. And beer. Okay, I’ll stop with all the alliteration. But really, it was time to finally conquer the Baja Tempeh Tacos.


To give a summary for making the tempheh, boil and slice tempeh for about ten minutes, and then throw into a good deep pan for marinating. Think of it like a potion, and go crazy adding ingredients, about a whole bottle of Mexican Ale beer, chili powder, cumin, Tony’s,  garlic, splash of soy sauce and let soak a night in advance if you have the time. When you are ready to cook either stick in the oven at 200 degrees slathered in some grapeseed oil, or fry in a pan. Though the original recipe calls for tempeh the next time I make this I will definitely use either homemade seitan or a “beef or chicken” alternative from Morningstar farms. The tempeh just doesn’t have the right texture to really absorb the beer-chili marinade, and that’s the most exciting part, right?

Be sure to weight cabbage in plastic or glass, not metal.

Red Cabbage Taco Slaw

In addition to the tempeh, all you need to get ready is the red cabbage, which is literally grated red cabbage, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. You need to weight it down in the fridge to let it set, by covering it with saran wrap and putting a heavy jar on top. Weight for an hour minimum. Easy enough.

Why yes, that is where I licked the bowl.

Finished Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema.

Lime Crema

To make this, you’ll need either a blender or food processor. The original recipe called for soy yogurt, which I didn’t have any luck finding. Damn Athens grocers. So instead I made Cilantro sour cream, which essentially uses silken tofu instead of the soy yogurt. Throw a lb. silken tofu, 2 cups loose cilantro, a lllllllloooooooottttttttt of lime juice, and salt to taste together and blend to the creamy texture of sour cream. If you don’t like the taste of silken tofu, I positively think you could cheat and use store-bought vegan sour cream and blend it with some cilantro to get the same result. Refrigerate until serving time.

To-do Grocery List.

The more options the better.

All of this might seem like a lot to do, but it’s really not so time-consuming if you plan correctly. I made a list. For instance, knowing I would be giving a few sides with the tacos, I left out the marinade spices to reuse in the guacamole, saved a bundle of cilantro to sprinkle on the tacos, and minced some extra garlic to set aside for later, and since everything in the kitchen was covered in vegetable juice and wayward vegetable innards, I went ahead and cut tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos I would surely use later. This way I only had to clean up once. When 8 o’clock came around, I just transferred the ingredients to prettier buffet bowls, and magic–a Friday dinner party was born. And don’t forget the beer or margaritas to wash it all down.