Surfs Up Tempeh Tacos
Baja Tempeh Tacos
This spinky summer styled vegan taco where chill any sweltering afternoon. Be it on the beach, on the porch or in the backyard make sure that when you enjoy these you’re in need of a refreshing retreat. Sure, you’ll still love them in an air conditioned evening but the real joy of these flavors and textures can be found between the bites where you wipe the sweat off your brow.
- Glass or Tuperware container appropriate sized for marinading the tofu
- Slotted Spatula
- Baking Sheet Pan
- Hot Grill or Hot Pan
- Several Forks
- 1 quart Taco Slaw (see linked recipe)
- 1 cup Crema, lime (see linked recipe)
- 2 cup Chili-Beer Marinade (see linked recipe)
- 1 cup Pickled Jalapeno, sliced (see linked recipe)
- 1 cup Radishes (sliced translucent thin)
- 1 cup Tomato, plum or cherry (diced (for plum); quartered (for cherry))
- 8 oz Tempeh
- 1 pack Tortillas (type and size is dealers choice)
- enough Oil to saute or grill
For recipe simplicity, this recipe will assume you’ve made the accompaniments ahead of time.
From start to finish, making all of this will take you less than a half hour not counting the marinating and baking times.
Steaming or simmering the tempeh for 5-10 minutes before marinading helps remove certain flavors most of us (including myself) find bitter or overly musky. But that’s up to you.
If you do, make sure to cut up first. Don’t just steam or boil in block form.
Slice your tempeh block lengthwise (like you would a hamburger roll) so that the top and bottom half are each about finger high.
If your block of tempeh is thick enough, you’ll have to slice it through twice in which case you’ll have 3 layers each about finger high.
Now slice the layers vertically (like you would a block of cheese) so each piece is about 1/4 inch thick. If you will be steaming or boiling the tempeh, do so now making sure to thoroughly drain and dry before proceeding to the next step.
Arrange tempeh in container for marinade. There is nothing wrong with simply putting the tempeh in and pouring the marinade over. If you do this, make sure to delicately flip the tempeh several times through the marinading process so it can really soak in.
I generally take the time to shingle my tempeh strips in a sort of lattice fashion before pouring the marinade over. I still make sure to move the tempeh around a few times during the marinading but I find doing this maximizes flavor absorption.
Marinade for AT LEAST 2 HOURS!
If you marinade for 24 hours then all you’ll have is way more delicious tacos. That’s all.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Appropriately dress your pan or grill with the oil and heat to hot as ****
Lift tempeh strips out of marinade allowing as much of marinade to drip off as possible. Grill or saute both sides for several minutes (the aim is as crispy skin as you can get but that’s basically unachievable here none the less, that should be your mindset).
Remove tempeh to baking sheet tray. Once all the strips have been grilled or sauted and arranged on sheet tray, pour marinade over tempeh until it reaches 1/2-2/3rds of the way up the tempeh.
Place in center of oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove sheet tray and flip all tempeh with slotted spatula. BE CAREFUL!!! Take your time, it’s totally ok that this will take a couple or few minutes. JUST MAKE SURE TO CLOSE THE OVEN DOOR WHILE YOU DO THIS!!!
SPECIAL NOTE: if the marinade was gently bubbling no problem (also, no problem if it was not). If when you took the pan out the marinade was more than gently bubbling, turn your oven down. Maybe you’ll turn it down to 300, maybe down to 250. You gotta make the judgment call based on how hard the bubbling was.
You DO NOT want to boil the tofu with the marinade. But YOU DO want as much of the marinade to evaporate as possible leaving a thin, slightly sticky coating on the outside of the tempeh.
Place back in oven for ABOUT 10-15 more minutes. Keep an eye on it.
It’s not done until the marinade barely coats the bottom of the sheet pan. You want that marinade to be like 97% evaporated. Then the tempeh is done.
So … take it out of the oven.
warm the tortillas either on the pan or grill. reserve in foil to keep warm and limber.
add a light spread of the lime crema to the torilla followed by a generous heap of the slaw, a couple or few of the warm/hot tempeh strips and garnish as desired.
Fold and enjoy with a refreshing libation