Celine Steen has co-written a number of great vegan books and when she's not working hard at that she can be found riding her bicycle to the market and around town all powered on plant-based food.
Originally from Switzerland she has even gone back, now as someone who eats vegan, and visited where she grew up and discovered great vegan food there too!
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Vietnamese Peanut Tacos (from Vegans Go Nuts, by Steen and Newman, published by Fair Winds Press, 2016)
Like all tacos, a multitude of components makes for an outstanding—and quite nutritious in this case—outcome: prepare the pickles and tempeh ahead of time, and you’ll find that you can get these colorful wonders on the table rather quickly.
For the carrot pickles:
- 4 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch (5 cm) pieces widthwise, thinly sliced lengthwise (with mandoline slicer)
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated or pressed
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) brown rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 2 teaspoons (6 g) coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) coconut sugar or other sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
For the tempeh:
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tamari
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegan sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon (20 g) agave nectar or brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
8 ounces (227 g) tempeh, cut in half widthwise, then lengthwise, then each quarter widthwise again, and halved in thickness to create 16 thin, small, rectangular patties
For the tacos:
- 8 freshly cooked or softened 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas
- 2 scant cups (120 g) finely chopped red cabbage
- 24 3-inch (7.5 cm) long thin English cucumber slices
- Peanut Lime Sauce (see below)
- Vegan sriracha sauce
- Thinly sliced scallion
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup (56 g) unsalted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
To make the carrot pickles: Place the carrots, sambal oelek, and garlic in a heat-resistant bowl or container. Place the vinegars and water in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Don’t breathe in the vinegar fumes: it isn’t dangerous, just unpleasant. Stir the salt, sugar, and ginger into the vinegar mixture to dissolve the sugar. Pour this mixture on top of the carrots, and stir to combine. The brine will not fully cover the carrots at first, but it will as they soften. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring once or twice. Refrigerate for 24 hours before use. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Do not discard the brine, it will be used in other recipes!)
To make the tempeh: In a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan, whisk to combine tamari, sriracha, agave, vinegar, and garlic. Place the tempeh in the marinade, cover, and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, flipping once halfway through.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the tempeh for 8 minutes on each side. Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chop into bite-size pieces.
To assemble the tacos, place a scant 1/4 cup (15 g) cabbage in the length of the center of a tortilla (don’t be too generous with each component, or the tacos will be overstuffed and be a mess to eat.) Top with 4 pickled carrots (make sure to remove excess pickling liquid from carrots before adding.) Top with 3 cucumber slices. Top with the equivalent of 2 tempeh slices. Top with Peanut Lime sauce and a drizzle of sriracha sauce, to taste. Top with sliced scallion and cilantro leaves to taste, and 1 tablespoon (7 g) chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 tacos
Peanut Lime Sauce (from Vegans Go Nuts, by Steen and Newman, published by Fair Winds Press, 2016)
- 1/2 cup (128 g) roasted natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) water
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar or other natural liquid sweetener
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
Use a blender or vigorously whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients (only 1/4 cup, or 60 ml, water at first, add as needed to thin out). Set aside.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) sauce