Sep 17, 2015

veganmofo - local dish + baja tacos

Day 17 #vgnmf15: what is a traditional local dish? We're in San Diego, very close to the Mexican border; in fact, it is only a cool 30 minute drive, therefore, tacos - specifically, fish tacos - are one of the most traditional local dishes.

At the risk of featuring a second taco dish after the Sin Carne Asada Tacos, I say unto you that my local dish is fish tacos.

When I say fish tacos, a lot of people think of a tempura-ish fried fish, but the more traditional fish tacos here, most famously Baja Tacos, are marinated and grilled and served with cabbage, lime and crema, which is a thick cream, not quite as thick as sour cream.

I used tempeh and lobster mushrooms to make these tacos, but using only tempeh with a little bit of dulse seaweed is also good. Or you can use oyster mushrooms instead of lobster mushrooms and tempeh.

Preheat your grill and cook the marinated protein until lightly charred to get a nice smoky flavor and authentic grilled texture.

The vegan crema is nothing more than vegan sour cream mixed with a little lime juice and salt. You can also serve these with Guacamole, with or without the crema. After you marinate the tempeh, the dish comes together quickly and is a great option for an easy meal when you get home from wherever.

Baja Tacos
Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 dried ancho chiles
4 California chiles (also known as dried Anaheim peppers)
1 ½ ounces dried lobster mushrooms
8 ounces tempeh, cut into slices or wedges
½ medium onion, cut into ½-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Sea salt and black pepper
¼ cup water
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 onions, cut into ¾ -inch thick rings

Small (3-inch) corn tortillas, as needed
Guacamole, recipe below (optional)
Crema, recipe below
Thin slices of cabbage
Scallions, minced
Pickled jalapenos
Cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

1. Marinade: Remove the stems and most of the seeds of the chiles. Heat the chiles in a pan (or grill pan)  until soft and lightly colored. Transfer to a bowl along with the dried mushrooms and tempeh and cover with hot water. Set aside to rehydrate for 20 minutes and drain. Transfer the tempeh and mushrooms to a bowl.
2. Cook the onions and garlic in the skillet used for the chiles and cook until lightly charred. Transfer the onion to a blender. Peel the garlic and transfer to the blender. Add the drained chiles, water, olive oil, lime juice and salt and black pepper, to taste. Blend until smooth. Add the marinade to the tempeh and mushrooms, mix well and set aside to marinate, at least 20 minutes.
3. Heat your grill or grill pan. Grill the mushrooms and tempeh, basting with the sauce as needed, until lightly charred, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a work surface and coarsely chop. Heat the tortillas on the grill, about 30 seconds to 1 minutes. 
4. Place two tortillas on top of each other and fill with cabbage, protein, crema and toppings of choice. Squeeze fresh lime juice on the tacos and enjoy.

5 medium ripe Hass avocado, mashed 
1 small ripe tomato, diced
3/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl using a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper and lime juice.

½ cup vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon unsweetened plain vegan milk, if needed to thin
Sea salt

1. Combine the sour cream, juice and salt, to taste, in a small bowl. Taste and add more lime juice or salt as needed. Add the milk to think if needed. Transfer the crema to a squirt bottle and use as needed.

 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds fantastic, I've never had a fish taco -and never will- but a lobster or oyster mushroom taco sings to me :)

  2. Woah! These sound insanely delicious! Way better than fish tacos. I'm not sure I've seen lobster mushrooms, but I want to try one!
    Do you live in California Zsu? 30 minutes from the Mexican border. Maybe that means we are neighbours =)
    I would LOVE for you to share this at Healthy Vegan Fridays =)

    1. Shared! And I'm in San Diego. How far are you?

    2. Yay!!! thank you for sharing - I am pinning these gorgeous tacos!
      The closest big city is San Jose. That's not too far! I've been wanting to hit up San Diego, maybe we can get together sometime =)


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