Like 99% of the population, we’re all about easy dishes here when heatwaves keep coming at us throughout the summer. Possibly more than 99% of the population will also agree that it doesn’t get much easier or delicious than tacos.
If you don’t fancy making your own crema, get yourself some vegan sour cream at the store and be happy. I also occasionally just go for a 12-ounce pack of silken tofu blended with the chilled coconut cream from a can of coconut cream or milk, combined with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon or lime juice (or more to taste), and coarse kosher salt to taste. Simplistic? You betcha. It still hits the spot though. Just be sure to give it an overnight stay in the fridge to chill and do its thing before partaking.
Disclaimer: I use and love my countertop oven since it keeps me from having to use the regular oven when it’s already too damn hot in the house, but I’m aware not everyone clutters their countertops with said oven. You could always combine the baking of the soy curls with another savory recipe that calls for oven use, to make the most of it.
Alternatively, you could pan-fry the rehydrated soy curls, onion, and bell pepper in the tablespoon of oil, just until light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Whisk the rest of the ingredients and add to the pan after those 5 minutes, cooking on medium-high heat and stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and the soy curls are golden brown and not too wet/dry. Should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
Citrus Chile Soy Curls
Yield: Enough for 10 tacos depending on appetite
1 tablespoon (15 ml) roasted peanut oil or any oil
6 ounces (170 g) dry soy curls, rehydrated, gently squeezed and well drained
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color), cored and diced
1/2 cup (136 g) organic ketchup
6 tablespoons (90 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons (45 ml) lime juice
1 tablespoon (20 g) agave nectar
1 tablespoon (9 g) taco seasoning
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon dried porcini mushroom powder or other mushroom powder
Scant 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Add the oil, rehydrated soy curls, onion and bell pepper to a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soy curls are golden brown but stopping before they get too dry. In the meantime, whisk to combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour onto the soy curls and fold to coat thoroughly. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the soy curls are neither too wet nor too dry, just pleasantly saucy. Serve warm or at room temperature, or even cold. Can be used in tacos and sandwiches, or alongside roasted vegetables.
This cashew crema takes a little bit of time to be ready, but the hands-on work is pretty minimal. Lusciously velvety, rich and creamy, it’s a must on tacos, chili, or anywhere regular crema is usually called for.
Yield: 2 cups (480 g)
1 cup (120 g) raw cashew pieces, soaked overnight in the refrigerator
1 cup (235 ml) canned full-fat coconut milk
4 teaspoons (20 ml) distilled vinegar, divided
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lime juice
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus extra to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain cashew milk
Chipotle pepper from can with adobo sauce, quantity to taste (optional)
Drain and briefly rinse the soaked cashews. Place the cashews, coconut milk, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vinegar, lime juice, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender. Blend until thoroughly smooth, stopping the blender to scrape the sides as needed. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
In a small bowl, combine the cashew milk with the remaining 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vinegar, and let stand for 2 minutes to curdle and create buttermilk. Add an extra pinch of salt to the refrigerated mixture, and whisk the “buttermilk” into it until thoroughly smooth. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Whisk and store in the refrigerator for another 12 hours. This will help further develop the flavors.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Citrus Chile Soy Curl Tacos
Fresh corn tortillas (the soy curls should yield enough for 10 depending on appetite), slightly charred to enhance flavor
Shredded red cabbage
Baby heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
Citrus Chile Soy Curls (see above)
Cashew Crema (see above) or vegan sour cream
Vegan hot sauce of choice
Fresh cilantro and scallions, finely chopped and sliced
Fresh lime wedges
You know what to do: Top your tortilla with a handful of cabbage, a few chopped tomatoes, a spoonful of corn, a spoonful of soy curls, crema to taste, sliced or chopped avocado to taste, hot sauce to taste, and a generous sprinkle of cilantro and scallions. Squeeze a wedge of lime on top and serve. Repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients.
Below: the result of me having to buy hot sauce and being undecided enough to try all Cholulas in one shot. I shouldn’t be trusted in a grocery store, really. (No, this isn’t an ad for Cholula. I purchased all these bottles and am not proud of myself. It turns out I’m not a fan of all flavors, but Chipotle Cholula has my ♥.)