I don’t actually have a lot of recent experience with “real” (ground beef) tacos so I can’t really remember how they taste differently from vegan varieties. But I love tacos–the seasoning, the toppings, the crunchy shell around the non-crunchy filling, the cold toppings on the hot filling. and TABASCO. So tacos are always something I’ve made, except back when I was a real vegan, I relied on veggie crumbles and store-bought shells and seasoning. They tasted good, but they were not healthy. At all.
I’ve been making a real effort to reduce the amount of processed foods we buy and eat, but it’s hard to eliminate all of them–I don’t really have time to make my own tortillas right now, for example. But I can buy corn tortillas and make my own taco shells from them, so that’s a step in the right direction. And I can make my own taco seasoning and keep it on hand. I also made my own seitan…which formed the basis of these particular tacos. Tacos are incredibly versatile and there are lots of things that make good fillings. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year I used shredded tempeh and black beans to make fillings. Those were pretty tasty, but not as good as the ones I made last night.
I followed Robin Robertson’s instructions in 1,000 Vegan Recipes for making taco filling out of seitan. This past weekend I broke a piece of my beloved food processor and I’m waiting for the replacement part to arrive, so I was unable to run my chunks of seitan through the food processor to make “ground wheat meat.” Chopping it with a big knife worked fine, though; it just look a little longer.
I heated olive oil in my skillet and browned the seitan, then added a little bit of soy sauce. Next I added 1 1/2 tsp of my taco seasoning (Robertson uses chili powder) and 1/4 tsp each of ground cumin and garlic powder.
Meanwhile I had preheated the oven to 250-degrees and wrapped my corn tortillas in foil to warm them up in the oven. When they had warmed up a little, I sprayed each side of the tortillas with a little canola oil and sprinkled one side with kosher salt. Then I carefully draped them over two oven rack bars to get crispy while I prepared our toppings. Here is a repeat of an image I used in my previous taco post:
For toppings I chopped a little red onion, some cilantro, scored half an avocado so I could scoop chunks out with a spoon, and shredded some romaine lettuce. I put the Tabasco on first, then the onion, cilantro, lettuce, and lastly the avocado, to weigh everything down.
And when the assembly was finished, it was hard to see everything, but still–yummy:
I think I should have turned the oven heat up a little bit. For some reason my shells did not get as crispy as they should have. Usually I have the opposite problem. The seitan filling was fabulous. It retained a lot of moisture; generally I have problems with vegan taco filling drying out too much in the skillet since there is not much fat. I used a quarter of the batch of seitan I had made, and although I thought it didn’t look like enough while I was frying it up, it turned out to be the perfect amount for eight tacos. I almost couldn’t finish mine. I said *almost.*