I’ve been so busy working on the Taco Cleanse lately that I’ve not blogged here as often. Don’t worry, I’m still keeping the Austin Vegan Guide as updated as I can! I’ve been busy testing recipes like this Tempeh Picadillo from the book and creating recipes for the Taco Cleanse blog like the Mexican Smashed potatoes underneath.
Wasota is one of my favorite trailers in town. I love everything there… maybe a little two much. All the food is so good and the portions are so humongous that Dan and I both eat well past our stopping point whenever we get it. We try to stick the leftovers in the fridge but then we can’t stop snacking on them. It’s addictive. During the taco cleanse I realized that the vegan platter would make great vegan tacos, it has so many different elements and there is even a tasty spicy sauce to put on the top. I thought about this constantly until a night when Dan and I were both home because I couldn’t go to Wasota without him.
Putting everything together was even better than expected and we only had to get one vegan platter (with an extra side of plantains) to split. We still ate more food than we probably should of but it was delicious magical food. The taco was Jollof rice, black-eyed peas, creamy spinach, akara fritters, fried plantains, and then topped with the spicy Benin sauce all in a flour tortilla. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recomend you check it out stat. They recently moved the trailer to South Lamar in that little lot across the street from Mr. Natural.
In other taco cleanse news the zine is now available on paper and on PDF. A warning about the latter, we made the zine all with cutouts and photocopies so the PDF version is just a scanned version of the paper version. It still rocks! The paper version is going to be a limited run and will also be available at Rabbit Foods pop-up at Vegan Drinks this Friday.
These days it seems like ramen joints are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm but a couple years back it was all about the Korean Taco fusion trailers. Only one stood the test of time, and for good reason. Chi’lantro might be the best run food truck – or really fleet of food trucks – in the city. They are completely on it with social media telling you on twitter where they have moved too, and the mobile trucks always seems to be exactly where I want them to be when I’m looking for food at 2am after the bars close downtown.
These tiny tacos of deep fried tofu, soy vinaigrette Korean salad, cilantro, onion, and their special salsa are the ideal late night food. Everything comes together perfectly and the sweet sauce covering the salad is just delicious. And they are only a couple of dollars! The service at the trailer runs with more efficiency than, I’d say, ANYWHERE else at 2 am. I promise you will have a better experience than at Taco Bell or Kerbey Lane. The only thing I don’t like is that their Kimchi isn’t vegan and neither is their magic sauce so I can’t partake in what I’m sure are amazing Kimchi fries. I want them every time. Oh well, I’m still always happy with two tacos in my belly for the ride home at the end of the night.
I have started to break the taco cleanse. Dan made the Siesta Taco Soup from Betty Goes Vegan yesterday (except we used hominy instead of lentils and topped with avocado) it was so delicious. It was strange to feel something so soupy in my belly but it had all the comforting flavors of a taco so I think it was a good choice.
But now I’m really confused about what to eat. I went to the grocery store on Sunday and just kind of wandered around and ended up with just stuff for Dan. Basically I can’t imagine cooking something that isn’t a taco. I guess I’ll just wait for a craving. Any suggestions?
I’ve had “where do we go from here” from Buffy the Musical in my head since the end of the cleanse and I wanted to add the you tube of the video. I couldn’t find it, but I did find a version of the song cut to the mid season finale of Battlestar Galactica. I swear when Lee Adama said, “where do we go from here” I totally thought they were referencing this song which is possible since Jane Espenson wrote for both shows! If you love both of those shows or you want to understand what I’m feeling, check it out.
Yesterday I stopped in at one of my former constant hangout’s Maria’s Taco Xpress. I used to live down the block so we would go there all the time. It’s crazy how much it’s changed in the last few years. It used to be a little shack with some tables in the back on the dirt and a trailer park behind it. Then Walgreens bought the land and, I think because of the neighborhood outrage, they let the Taco Xpress rebuild and rebuild it they did. The new location is so much bigger, and then they expanded the patio! Then they expanded it more. Then they added a second story! The trailer park gave way to super modern condos and the whole area looks completely different. The tacos however remain exactly the same.
The thing I really love about Maria’s tacos is the range of salsas and topping that they carry. You can dress your taco with pico, red salsa, green salsa, cilantro, onions, and maybe some other things too. If you go, pay extra for the guacamole, it’s always perfect. The atmosphere is always fun but especially Sunday brunch when Hippie Church is going on and there is live gospel music and dancing. 100% south Austin charm, even if it is in the middle of what seems like thousands of condos being constructed on South Lamar.
Last night the Taco Scientists worked into the night putting together the zine. If you want a hard copy go pre-order on Rabbit Food, we are just going to do a limited run. You can also get them at the Taco Cleanse Closing Party this Sunday!
The first time I read the words “waffle taco” (I believe it was on twitter via @pandawithcookie) I knew I had to check it out. Since my first trip to the Flavor Spot in Portland I’ve gone back for more many times but it never even occurred to me to make my waffle taco. I figured it could never compete with the perfection that is Portland’s own dutch taco.
Fast forward a few years to the founding days of the taco cleanse. I was meeting with the taco scientists here in Austin and we were discussing all the different tacos we could do. Knowing that fellow scientist and Taco Liberation Front writer #westagram had made waffles in the past and is an amazing cook I asked him to make us waffle tacos later in the month. While I watched his experiments on instagram I was jealous but when I finally got to try it, the dutch taco was worth the wait. In fact, I think it was even better than the flavor spot. A dutch taco is a sausage with maple cream sauce encased in a folded waffle. You know that thinspo saying “being thin feels better than any food tastes” or something? Those people have never had one of these. My level of happiness was off the freaking charts after eating it along some with some mimosas. It’s all breakfast was ever supposed to be.
The good news is, if you don’t have a Wes in your life you will now be able to make his tacos at home because the recipe is going to be in our fabulous upcoming zine! The Taco Cleanse official zine is going to have a lot more than just recipes too, there are going to be quizzes if you are wondering if taco cleansing is right for you, taco crossword puzzles, and even a forward from Vegansaurus founder Laura Beck! Pre-orders are available at Rabbit Food and we are hoping to have a whole lot to sell at the taco cleanse closing ceremony this September 29th!
We are super excited! I can’t believe the taco cleanse is almost over. My sister asked me yesterday if I still know how to use a fork and you know what, I don’t want to!
Taco Cleanse enthusiast Abbey Bean asked an important question on a previous post and I would like to address it here because this is a crucial topic that I feel remiss for not addressing as of yet. She said “do you prefer flour or corn tortillas?” and I will try to answer this as best I can.
If you have ever wondered “how could eat tacos all day” my guess is that you have never had a deliciously fresh perfectly made tortilla. They are the most critical element of the taco both for enfolding the delicious components within and for creating a way to bring the taco from your plate to your mouth. They are also a vital element when it comes to the taste of the taco. You hear a lot that you can tell how good a taco stand is going to be by it’s salsa and I would have to disagree. Fresh homemade tortillas are the hallmark of any great taco stand. And they aren’t even hard to make.
I choose my taco’s tortilla based on what is going to be inside. Usually it works out that if it’s going to be more of a Tex-Mex taco like fajitas or a scramble-sausage-cheese breakfast taco I will use a flour tortilla. If my taco is more Mexican inspired like Al Pastor, Carnitas, or my standard breakfast taco of refried beans, nopales, and potatoes, then I will chose a corn tortilla. This is most of the time and I do really love a good corn tortilla. A bad one can ruin a taco however. I’ve never really been a fan of whole wheat tortillas because I’ve never had one that wasn’t tough but maybe I would enjoy a really fresh one. I do like Margarita’s spelt tortillas and get them occasionally for breakfast. On the taco cleanse it can be a little harder to figure out what tortilla goes with what filling. For the Pad Thai-co I was trying to think of some rice based or mung bean based tortilla, like a Vietnamese crepe, but in the end I just used flour because flour is kind of a neutral and it worked great.
Choosing a flour vs a corn tortilla isn’t even the real issue. I used to be kind of a corn tortilla snob but I’ve gotten over it as I’ve gotten older and learned to try and embrace every kind of taco. Quality, I assure you, is what makes the real difference. I don’t think I can really explain it through pictures because you can’t always tell a good tortilla by looking at it. Just the other day, I was at the Mexican meat market looking for five inch flour tortillas and I tried the first brand I found that was vegan. I didn’t have very high hopes – I usually don’t go for flour tortillas unless they just came off the comal- but they ended up being fluffy and delicious. Generally you want to either make tortillas yourself or go somewhere where they are still warm when you purchase them. In Austin, Fiesta, HEB, Central Market, and many taquerias make their tortillas fresh all day so they are easy to find. Tortillas don’t last long, that’s why dishes like migas, chilaquiles, and nachos were invented, to use up the tortillas past their prime. If you aren’t making fresh tortillas you always want to heat them up, before you add the filling. I used to always wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven but ever since I got my tortilla warmer I have been using the microwave instead. Tortillas should always be small, six inches or less, you should be able to finish a taco in a few bites.
If there aren’t Mexican grocery stores in your neighborhood and you do decide to make tortillas yourself, I recommend getting a tortilla press to make the job super easy. They aren’t expensive and you can use them to flatten gluten cutlets too if you make your own seitan.
I would also recommend watching a video, here is one from Hilah Cooking, to get the technique right and try corn first, I find them easier than flour. They are similar to making pancakes except there is no measuring, only a couple ingredients, and they are done in about a minute. If you can’t get masa in your area, there are even recipes for how to make them yourself, here is a great video.
Now there are, of course, a range of other vehicles for holding your taco but these are always secondary to the standard fresh tortilla. Crispy tacos, puffy tacos, pancake tacos, waffle tacos, romaine leaf tacos, and even raw corn tortilla tacos all have their place on the taco cleanse but they aren’t “standard” tacos, I would call them specialty tacos. I see a lot of folks calling their tacos “soft tacos” and I think that term is an invention from Taco Bell that is rather redundant. Any taco is a soft taco unless it’s otherwise stated.
I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if you have any questions.
I tried forever to figure out how to say Soy Curl fajitas in Spanish but it turns out I just don’t know how. Why are they even called soy curls? Are they like curls of smoke or curls of hair? I blame this lack of knowledge on my shitty Spanish teacher “Señorita Williams” who was like Peggy Hill without the enthusiasm. She also exclusively wore jumpers like this. I don’t think Fajitas are Mexican anyway. I’m pretty sure they are a tex-mex dish that was made up by cowboys or ranchers. Those poor folks didn’t have ready access to soy curls as we do these days so they had to use pieces of dead cows! Thankfully times have changed and this vegan version is super. The recipes took me a while to perfect. I think the key was to use a lot of oil, because otherwise the soy curls would stick to the pan rather than getting browned. Maybe my cast iron just isn’t seasoned well enough. I also used aji amarillo Peruvian pepper paste because I absolutely love it and I feel like it perks up any peppery dish but I’m sure any pepper paste would do. I have been loving the Yellowbird Sauce made with habañeros, too, but you could skip it or use whatever hot sauce you like. Finally, I had some fajita spice mix but if you don’t another seasoning mix would do, something that has onion and garlic powder along with salt and pepper.
Soy Curl Fajitas
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion cut in half moons
1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper cut in strips
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of soy curls (re-hydrate in vegetable broth and then squeeze dry)
2 Tablespoons of aji amarillo pepper sauce
1 Tablespoons of yellowbird hot sauce
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tea spoons of fajita spice mix
Heat up a cast iron skillet over a medium hot flame and then add the oil. When shimmering toss in the peppers and onions. Once they are getting browned add the garlic, after it sizzles for 30 seconds add the soy curls and toss in the other ingredients. Cook until the soy curls are browned and serve on a tortilla with homemade guacamole or sour cream and scallions or sliced almonds for some crunch.
This recipe is going to be in the upcoming taco cleanse zine which we are feverishly working on! Luckily we are #TacoPowered and should get it done before veganmofo is over!
Pad Thai is one if my go-to comfort foods and there is a great little place down the corner from me called Tuk Tuk that’s hard to resist. It’s the most untraditional taco I’ve eaten yet and maybe the easiest since I just piled on the takeout noodles, cabbage, and topped with some peanuts like and sriracha into a flour tortilla.
It also made me realize that one typical sized pad thai serving would feed about 6 people in taco form.
Tacos save lives!