Vegetable tempura tacos with chimichurri

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chimichurri sauce

close up tempura with herbs and lime in background

tempura tacos-4

tempura tacos-3

Poor Hubby has had to endure several insanely delicious taco-eating sessions this week while I pursue experimental taco enlightenment.

“Which one’s the best?” I pestered him. “The tofu banh mi ones? The white bean tacos or these ones?”

“I don’t know,” he said, inhaling the last bite of yummy tempura taco. “Make them all again so I can do the pepsi challenge.”

I was a little worried about these at first, I have to admit. Would there be enough flavor with only two (albeit, quite special) components to stuff the tortillas? Would chimichurri sauce be too strong? I encourage you to make these tacos for yourself and see how yummy vegan tempura in a taco can be.

(Vegan) Tempura vegetables
makes enough for about 6-8 tacos
Various vegetables of your choice, washed and chopped into large pieces, such as: broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, sweet potato, mushrooms, snap peas, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup seltzer or club soda
oil for deep frying

Chimichurri sauce for tacos
Makes just over a cup of sauce
Juice of one lime (or 1 1/2 limes)
1/2 – 1 whole jalapeno chili, with some seeds for spice, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot or 1/4 red onion, minced
large handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
sprig of fresh oregano (about a tbs), chopped
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
good grinding of sea salt (to taste)

1) Make the chimichurri sauce first, since it will need a bit of time to relax and mellow. Mix all the ingredients together and taste to see if you need to adjust seasoning. It may seem all super garlicky and limey at first but after 10 or 20 minutes, the flavors will mellow and combine nicely. Yes, it is a strong sauce–I had garlic breath–but this is excellent for keeping away vampires.

Making the batter. Since this is vegan and has rice flour, these tempura crisped up but didn’t really brown much. Also, the batter doesn’t stick like glue to the veggies but it sticks enough. And it’s good. I ate half the first batch while I was deep-frying the next batch.

2) Mix the flours together with the salt. Then add the club soda or seltzer and whisk till no lumps. There. You did it.

3) Heat up oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed, deep pot. It is hot enough when you drop a bit of batter in and it immediately sizzles and floats up. Around medium should be good. Medium high may be too hot. (I used a medium-sized pot and did a small batch of veggies at a time, using about half a bottle of vegetable oil.)

4) Mix the chopped vegetables thoroughly in the tempura batter till completely coated. Set a large tray down with paper towel or clean cloth (better for the environment!) to soak up the grease. Then carefully drop each battered vegetable into the oil, taking care not to splatter yourself. Use a utensil to make sure the veggies don’t drop to the bottom of the pot and stick there (I found that carrots tended to stick).

5) Fry for 2 or 3 minutes, turning to cook all sides. It doesn’t take long to cook the batter and you don’t want to over cook the vegetables. They need a nice bite to them. Carefully lift them out of the oil and drain. Repeat until you have cooked all the tempura.

6) Serve the tacos. These do not have to be served hot, so no rush. Warm up the tortillas (I prefer corn tortillas), fill with the tempura and top with the chimichurri sauce. Delicious.

Easy white bean tacos

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white bean tacos-1

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white bean tacos-2

Something quick and tasty to throw together when you really don’t feel like cooking, but you don’t exactly want to eat crappy food either. We’re not messing around with spices or taco seasoning here. These tacos are really just about the chili of the sambal oelek and the fresh sour lime juice.

See here for some more labor intensive, but pretty spectacular banh mi tacos.

Ingredients
Makes about 8 small corn four tortilla tacos

Prep and cook time: 20 minutes
2 cans white beans (cannelini, northern, white, etc), drained and rinsed
1/2 to 1 tsp sambal oelek (or more, depending on your spice skill)
fresh oregano and cilantro (save some for garnish)
fresh lettuce or greens of any kind (rocket, butter, boston, radicchio, kale, bok choi)
1-2 limes
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, slivered or minced
8 corn tortillas
fresh veg of your choice (avocado, radish, cucumber, tomato, corn, red onion etc)
salsa of choice
salt and pepper to taste

1) Prep all the veg. Wash and slice the vegetables thin. Either leave the leafy greens whole, or shred them as you like.
2) Heat up 2 tbs of olive oil and gently fry the garlic till soft. Add in the white beans, a bit of water, the sambal oelek, 2-3 tsp of chopped oregano and cilantro, and salt and pepper
3) On low to medium heat, cook the beans until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4) Fry the corn tortillas till hot, soft and a little golden brown.
5) To plate the tacos: Place a corn tortilla, add the lettuce, the fresh veg (such as radish, cucumber and avocado), the beans and a generous squeeze of lime. Repeat with remaining tacos.
6) Garnish with cilantro and serve with salsa on top or on the side.

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