Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos

by nomeatbarefeet

This is close to how ours looked. The original recipe calls for cabbage, but we used kale instead. And there wasn’t a map. But still, pretty close…

This recipe comes from Veganomicon, the vegan bible. I modified a few things due to preference and availability, but the consensus was that it is super tasty! I pan fried the tempeh, but you can certainly try to grill it. (If I can find a grill next time that will be my preferred choice.)

There are 3 components that you will have to make for this dish, and all of them can (and should) be made ahead of time to let the compnonents meld together: The Slaw, Cilantro Sour Cream, and Chile-Beer Marinade.


The Slaw

  • 3 C. of shredded kale
  • 1 carrot (shredded)
  • 1/4  C. apple cidar vinegar
  • 2 pickled jalapenos (diced)
  • 1 tsp salt

Cilantro Sour Cream

  • 1 pound silken tofu
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/4 C. oil (I used olive, but grapeseed or vegetable would suffice)
  • 2 C cilantro (stems and leaves, loosely packed)

Chile-Beer Marinade

  • 3/4 C. beer (I used Corona, but any ale or pilsner will work)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp oil (I used vegetable, but olive or peanut would work)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2-3 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 package (8 oz.) tempeh
  • [Optional add-ins: vegan cheese, pickled jalapenos, avocado]

The How To

  1. Make The Slaw.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl. Cover the top of the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, press down on the slaw, and set something (like a small stock pot or some cans) on the slaw to weight it down. Slaw tastes better when it has time to mellow so let it sit, refrigerated, for at least an hour.
  3. Make the Cilantro Sour Cream so that it has time to setup.
  4. Put tofu, lime juice, agave, and salt in the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Meanwhile, pre-heat a small pan over medium-low heat. Put oil and garlic in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly brown (3 minutes or so). Add to the tofu mixture and blend again. Add cilantro and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides, taste and adjust salt and lime. Transfer to a bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Make the Chile-Beer Marinade.
  6. Whisk all ingredients together and pour into a pie plate or casserole dish.
  7. To prepare the tempeh you can do one of two things: steam the tempeh for at least 10-15 minutes, OR, place the tempeh in boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. (I have never boiled tempeh before, but for this recipe it is the easiest method to use.)
  8. Slice the tempeh into three pieces lengthwise, then slice each in half horizontally through the middle. Once the water is boiling add the tempeh, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. When done, remove with tongs and place directly into the marinade making sure to cover the entire surface. Marinate for at least 1 hour, occasionally flipping the tempeh to cover all of it.
  9. Preheat oven to 350. [I did this because I was frying in batches and I was making other side dishes. You can skip the the oven, especially if you will not be melting cheese on your tacos.] Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. You want enough oil to crisp up the tempeh, but not so much as to make the tempeh greasy. Fry for about 5 minutes a side. (You might have to do this in batches) Once they are about done spoon in some marinade and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add more or less marinade if needed. Remove from heat and either keep in thick slices or slice each into strips. (If you are making other dishes put the tempeh in the oven to keep warm.)
  10. Place some vegan cheese on tacos and warm in the oven.
  11. Once the cheese has melted, place some tempeh on a taco. Top with sour cream and slaw. Top with any add-ins. [We use pickled jalapenos and avocado slices.]