Tempeh tacos recipe

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If we ever decided to drop out of cookbook-writing society completely and become surfer dudettes, we would eat these amazing tacos every single day, without even bothering to change out of our wet suits first. Beer and chile–marinated tempeh is first slapped onto the grill (or fried in a cast-iron pan) and then lovingly stuffed into steamy corn tortillas. Garnish those puppies with a bright mayo-free coleslaw, and drizzle with luscious lime crema dressing. It’s the ultimate summertime dinner, or make whenever you wish you were on a tropical beach.

There are a few components to this recipe that need to marinate for about an hour each half an hour if you’re desperate but it’s easy enough to put together. Good news: the cabbage slaw tastes even better after resting overnight, so mix that up while you’re marinating the tempeh.

  • Yield: 8 double tortilla tacos


To Slaw
  • 3 heaping cups finely shredded purple or white cabbage (10 to 12 ounces), or a mix of both
  • 1 small carrot, shredded finely
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced paper thin (remove seeds if you’re freaked out by hot chiles)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • A few twists of freshly ground black pepper
Lime Crema
  • ¾ cup plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Chile-Beer Marinade
  • ¾ cup pilsner- or ale-style beer (Mexican preferred)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2½ teaspoons chili powder (premixed or mix your own with ancho, poblano, or chipotle powders)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
  • High-heat-safe vegetable oil or high-heat grill spray, for grilling
  • 12 to 16 soft, white corn tortillas (for double tortilla tacos, or use only 1 tortilla per taco)
  • Red radishes, sliced paper thin for garnish
  • Fresh tomato, seeded and diced garnish
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced garnish
  • Your favorite Mexican-style hot sauce for garnish
  • Ripe avocado, peeled and sliced or diced garnish
How to Make It
    Prepare the Slaw first
  1. Mix all the slaw ingredients well in a large glass or plastic bowl; don’t use metal. Either leave in the bowl or transfer to a narrower, cylindrical nonreactive container, such as a 1-pint plastic takeout container. Cover the top of the container loosely with plastic wrap, press it down on top of the slaw, and put something heavy, such as a can of beans, on top. Marinate the slaw for at least an hour, or make it the night before; the flavor and texture develop with time. When ready to use, squeeze out handfuls to release any excess juice.
  2. Marinate the Tempeh
  3. Blend all the crema ingredients together in a blender until creamy and smooth. Add more salt or lime juice to taste, if desired. Pour into an airtight container and chill until ready to use.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Preheat a greased grill pan or cast-iron skillet (brush well with oil or use a high-heat grill spray) over medium-high heat. Working in two or three batches, grill each piece of the tempeh for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges are caramelized and the tempeh is hot. Occasionally brush each piece with plenty of marinade, and use metal tongs to flip the pieces halfway through the cooking. Transfer the cooked tempeh to a dinner plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  5. Line up the lime crema, slaw, sliced grilled tempeh, and garnishes, in that order, on the kitchen counter. Stack the tortillas on a plate right next to the stove, and heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Toast a tortilla on the skillet for 30 seconds, then flip the tortilla over and heat until it has become soft and pliable. Repeat with a second tortilla and arrange both, slightly overlapping, on a serving dish. We like to use two tortillas per taco (helps with piling on the fillings), but you can make smaller tacos by using just one tortilla.
  6. Finish that Taco
  7. Spread a little lime crema down the center of the tortillas, add a few strips of tempeh, pile on some slaw, and top with any garnish you like. Drizzle with extra lime crema and hot sauce, if desired. Fold, eat, repeat!

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