As the mercury rises, I'm brought back to some pre-vegan days in hot sticky Florida. In those days, Sunday afternoons were spent learning my way around a kitchen with my parents. Summer meant fish tacos. We three would collaborate, led by my father's culinary vision as blueprint for the meal. After an hour or so of chopping, mixing, grilling, and of course a bit of dancing, we'd sit back in cushioned chairs, in the shadows of palm trees and build stacks of warm tortillas, spicy fish, savory beans, tangy sauces and mountains of cilantro. Despite the heat, we'd sit and chow and chat for hours on end.
I've tried, a few times, to replicate these experiences, but for all my effort, a black bean taco always just seems to fall flat compared the complex flavors of my memory. So a few weeks ago, on a seriously hot and sticky Connecticut , I made a big effort in memory recollection, culinary improvisation, and a few calls to Florida. It proved worthwhile.
So, for the heights of summer, a cruelty free version of a family classic. It even has my parents stamp of approval, proving that no meal or memory is too precious to veganize!
Blackened Tofu "Fish" Tacos
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2-4 sheets of roasted nori, torn into rough quarters or so.
3 T olive oil
2 T tamari or soy sauce
1 T brown rice vinegar
juice from 1/2 lime
3-5 T blackened mix, depending on desired spiciness
(I've been using a cajun mix from Kalustyan's for a while. But you can always improvise by mixing up your own with onion, garlic, paprika, chili pepper, black pepper, etc.)
While pressing the tofu, mix all the wet ingredients together, reservin
g about 2T of olive oil for cooking. Add about 3T of the spice mix and taste, add more if you like more of a spice kick. In a food processor chop the 2 sheets of roasted Nori until roughly chopped (again, the exact amount you use depends on how much you'd like your tofu to taste, um, sea-like. I used 4 sheets). Add the liquids and spices to the nori and mix for a minute.
Cut tofu into 1/4 inch slabs and place in a shallow bowl or pyrex and cover in nori-spice sauce, coating all sides. Marinade the tofu for 30 minutes (or if you have time, overnight). Once marinated, fry tofu in 1-2T olive oil in heavy skillet on medium-medium/high until the tofu is blackened and crispy on both sides and firm throughout.
Chipotle Aioli Sauce
1 C Veganaise
1 t olive oil
1 t cumin
3 T Chipotle adobo sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
pinch of salt, to taste
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until about 10 minutes before you are ready to serve.
After warming up a pile of corn tortillas, assembling you tacos is all up to you. In addition to the tofu and aioli, we took advantage of some black beans and sautéed cabbage and green onions that had been leftover from earlier in the weekend. Of course we also piled on the cilantro and fresh lime. We served the tacos with fresh green heaps of guacamole and crispy tostones for a serious feast, but these bad boys hit the spot in their own right.
Assemble food, pals, and find a shady spot to eat and laze around all afternoon.