Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tempeh tacos

Taco night! But not just any taco night. These feature delicious, escabeche-like pickled sweet onion and jalapeno together with flavorful tempeh crumbles. Plus creamy avocado and tangy queso fresco...yes please. Tuesday night tacos, coming at you. Let's start with the quick pickle.If we get this going first, it will be perfect by the time everything else is ready. Just slice up half a sweet onion (and mine were really from Vidalia GA because a co-worker's kid sold them to me for a school fundraiser--weird, right?) into thin half-moon slices and mix together with about 6-8 pickled jalapeno slices, 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 -4 tablespoons cider vinegar. Stir it up together and let sit while you do other things. Get 2 tablespoons olive oil heating up in a skillet over medium-high. Add in 1 teaspoon cumin and 2 teaspoons chili powder to bloom their flavors in the heat before you put anything else in.Get a package of tempeh out and admire it in all its fermented soy glory. Tempeh has great flavor and texture, especially for soy-resistant people. It isn't gonna win any beauty contests though.Crumble it up and stick it in the pan with the spices and oil.Stir it around for a few minutes, breaking up big chunks. If it seems dry you can add a drizzle more olive oil. For flavor I added 1 tablespoon worcestershire, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 cup tomato sauce plus a squeeze of tomato paste. My sauce was frozen which is why it looks so weird in the picture. You don't want it to be soupy with sauce--just enough to boost up the flavor and help it brown in the pan. After you mix everything in, turn down the heat to medium and spread it out in the pan and let it crisp up in parts. Let it continue to cook like this for about 5 minutes, stirring the pan occasionally so everything gets a chance to get crispy. Taste it and see if it needs more salt or anything to perk it up--as with many soy products, you can get aggressive with the seasoning. I tossed some squeezed out limes on top to flavor it too. Meanwhile, you can cut up your other taco fillings! I had 1 avocado, sliced and tossed in lime juice, about 1/2 cup crumbled quesco fresco, a couple lime wedges for squeezing, and the sweet onion-jalapeno pickle.This is the right amount to fill 8 small corn tortillas. Warm them up on the stovetop first.Don't forget the tempeh! Now just fill up your tacos!The onion is crisp with a sweet-tangy heat and everything pulls together to make the perfect early summer back porch dinner.

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