Crispy Tofu Tacos

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Tofu is one of the most unsexy foods to behold on this earth. It’s a wet, taupe-colored block of soy and it’s no wonder many people take one look and say “Thanks, but I’d rather lick my own foot.” But it is deliciously adaptable, weirdly addictive, and, well, just plain fantastic. After you get over the initial weirdness of it all, it’s hard not to become a tofoodie. Tofudie. Tofudite?

Whatever we call ourselves, tofu lovers are always finding new ways to embrace the king of soy. Cholita Linda got me hooked on their spicy tofu tacos and I wanted to recreate it on my own. In my world, the best tacos have a lot of different toppings and components. It makes them a bit complex, grocery-list wise, but completely worth it in the end (ie, don’t be scared off by the ingredient list below!). And the best part is that everyone gets to pick exactly what they want to craft their dinner time masterpiece.

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I’m a saucy gal and wanted lots of it to top the crunchy slaw and crispy tofu, so I made crema and chipotle garlic sauce. Tangy, spicy, and extremely messy, I was very pleased with how it all came together.

Crispy Tofu Tacos

makes about 4-5 tacos

1/2 c vegetable oil
Small corn or flour tortillas, warmed
Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
Refried pinto beans or black beans (optional)
Tofu marinade
10 oz firm tofu, cut into 1″x 3″ rectangles
1 lime, juiced
1/4 t chipotle powder
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t cumin
1/2 t salt
Crema
1/2 c sour cream
1 lime, juiced
1/2 t salt
Chipotle Sauce
1 chipotle pepper (canned), with 1 T adobo sauce
1 garlic clove
1 t paprika
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 c greek yogurt
1/2-1 t salt (to taste)
Slaw
1/2 head cabbage
2 T olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 t chili powder
1 t salt
1/2 jalepeno, seeds removed and sliced thinly
1 shallot, sliced thinly

Prep the tofu by pressing it in-between paper towels, until some of the moisture is removed. In a rectangular dish, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Lay the tofu pieces flat and marinade for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally. You can also marinade it overnight. Meanwhile, make the crema by whisking together the sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Set aside. With an immersion blender, in a Cuisinart, or in a regular blender, puree all the chipotle ingredients until smooth. Salt to taste. *Note: the chipotle peppers are spicy. If you are sensitive to spice, start with half a pepper and work your way up. Make the slaw by very finely slicing the cabbage, so that it is very delicate and thin. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, then toss in the cabbage. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and remove the tofu from the marinade, patting dry. Add the oil to the pan and, when shimmering, lay the tofu down. Cook until brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes per side. Assemble tacos by layering beans, tofu, slaw, sauces, and cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Shrimp Po’Boys

epic masterpiece

Laurenand I decided to go with Southern cuisine, after much deliberation and battles of will. We threw around Red beans and Rice, Gumbo, and a variety of seafood dishes, but finally we settled on a dish that no one can be dissatisfied with:

Fried stuff on bread with some vegetables as an afterthought! Or, as it is more widely known, Shrimp Po’boys.

Most acquaintances of mine know that I am very proud of my Southern roots. If someone starts spouting ignorant babble about my peeps, then they will soon feel the wrath of my Amazonian stature and temper. I’m no warrior, but my rage black-outs don’t often differentiate my body from that of Chuck Norris’s and will deliver a round-house kick to the face for any rude comments delivered in my presence.

The point is, Southern food makes you glad to be alive and capable of tasting all the wonderful flavors that are available to our tongues. So give thanks to Moses, Buddha, or whoever you’re praising today, for this wonderful meal you’re about to consume!

Most Po’boys I’ve encountered have fried shrimp or oysters (or both), but I’ve heard of delicious variations with sausage, crawfish, etc Shredded lettuce, tomatoes, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, and mustard as the usual suspects when it comes to additionals, all sitting atop a French or hoagie-esque roll.

Lauren objected to the squishy-ness of most hoagie rolls you find out there, so we went rogue and settled on Challah: it’s soft but with more oomph and is just so darn delicious. It did prove rather heavy when eaten in such vast quantities, but that can easily be avoided by simply not eating so much of it. Hmmm what a thought….

Here’s what you’ll need (for 2-3 sandwiches worth):

1 pound uncooked shrimp, deveined and tails removed
1/2 c hot sauce (we used Sriracha)
3 eggs
1 c flour
S+P
1 t Garlic powder
oil for frying
Rolls
1 head purple cabbage
1/2 onion, color of your choice
1 jalepeno
2 carrots, shredded
Tartar sauce
peppronicini
pickles

Lauren makes a meanslaw, so she graciously obliged and took the reigns for this one. She shredded up the cabbage and diced the jalepeno

Added some onion and carrot, then mixed up some dressing for marination.

Of course, I am completely blanking on what she put in it, but I know it included beer and lemon juice. Lauren? Be a doll and write it out in the comments?

A dressing to any slaw or salad comes with a bit of trial-and-error, but it’s always good to reference a recipe before you dive in. I am all for jumping in and just going with instinct, but you’re usually working with ingredients that are intense and can come out very wrong if you don’t ease into it. It might be wise to find yourself a solid base dressing to work off of, such as:
2 parts oil
1 part vinegar (balsamic, rice, red wine, etc, depending on what you’re putting it on)
shallots
mustard (again, depends on what you’re making, but dijon and honey are good foundations)
spices/herbs (S+P, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, rosemary, chives, etc)
citrus (grapefruit is a very tasty alternative to lemon)

While Lauren was working her magic with the slaw, I cut out our bread recepticles:

We cut the challah loaf into quarters and carved it into the “buns” you see above. Yes yes, very crafty of us. We know! I then rinsed the shrimpies

and de-tailed them. The eggs got hot sauced and the flour tossed with S, P, and garlic powder.

I got the pan hot and added about 1/2 in of oil. Once it was all shimmery and ready for action, the assembly line began:
dunk in egg mixture
dredge in flour
plop in the oil

It only took them a couple of minutes per side and, since over cooked shrimp are a worse crime than grand theft, make sure to keep your eye on these suckers.

While I was frying my life away, Lauren mixed up the tartar sauce with some diced pickles and pepperonicini:

We tossed the bread under the broiler to toast it up a bit, but before we knew it….HAMMER TIME!

Red cabbage slaw, vamped-up tartar sauce, fried shrimp, and toasted bread. All. For. Me. I mean, us!

They were difficult to eat since they were only slightly smaller than a watermelon, but by gum it was worth it. The shrimp had the perfect amount of spice from the hot sauce dip and were perfectly accented by the slaw. It was crunchy and soft all at once, spicy yet refreshing, and altogether delicious. Of course we had to finish them off with something equally as epic, so we went with peanut butter cookies stuffed with reeses:

No big deal. (Yea right, it was a huge deal because they were fan-freaking-tastic). This was all very exhausting, so a nap was in order:

NOMnomNOMnom!