Hey Good Lookin, What’s Cookin? Maui Wowee Vegan Fish Tacos

As soon as we walked into Off the Grid on Friday night, an aroma hit me so hard that my entire body shouted out its desire.

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Held at Fort Mason Center every friday night, Off the Grid truly does get this packed. Our little secret is to get there right at 5pm when it opens. Lots of seats, not crowded and no lines. (via.)

Off the Grid is a food truck party, where you are presented with every trendy gastronomical delight. Pork belly is the big deal right now, as is mega-carnivorism in general. With trucks like The Whole Beast and one just called “Bacon-Bacon“, options as a vegan/vegetarian have been fairly limited at times. Not that I’ve minded, since The Chairman, with their crispy miso tofu buns, usually does me right.

But this past week, when that smell went straight to my stomach, I knew I would be taking a risk.

The smell was fish, and it smelled goooood.

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It was the fish in this Maui Taco. via.

About a year ago, I wrote a two part post about my journey as a vegetarian of 22 years, and how health issues were leaving with me with only one unconsiderable option…to break my covenant with the animals and begin to eat meat again. (If you have a reaction or any questions about this I encourage you to click the links in this paragraph…there’s a lot of story, info and also response from readers). I never did update y’all on how those changes went for me. I have a recipe for you today, so let me just give it to you in a nutshell.

~I realized I’m allergic to eggs. (I know, it’s tragic.).
~Fermented foods ties my intestines in knots, so now I eat them sparingly.
~Rather than twice a month, bone and chicken stock is happening at the rate of 1-3 times a year.
~Whole fats (olive and coconut) are still working well for me, but I’ve cut way back.
~So far this year I have eaten meat three times.

And the rest of the time, the diet that makes my body feel good is the one I’ve eaten for 23 years now. Primarily vegan and gluten free, with raw goat cheese and sprouted wheat thrown in for comfort now and then.

Milla and I had a quick conversation when I saw her a couple of weeks ago, and we realized that we had landed in the same place, belly-wise. That what started out as feelings of malnourishment and a sense of need for heavy amounts of animal food resolved themselves surprisingly quickly after partaking for a few months. Now, I trust my body (which has always been my true north) to tell me what it needs and when. Now that I no longer stick my fingers in my ears, when my body says FISH. NOW. I listen, even if I am slightly skeptical about getting it from a food truck.

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The Taco Guys food truck features an organic, sustainably sourced menu with ingenious flavor combinations and a cinnamon-hibiscus cooler that made Jeff shout Yum!. via.

I needn’t have doubted. While I still feel the need to eat meat quickly, afraid that if I think too much about it I won’t be able to satisfy my body’s needs, it was easy to stay in the moment and savor my Maui Taco. It was delicious and every cell under my skin sighed Thank You.

Taco de Maui: Batter-fried sustainable ono (wahoo), shredded little gem lettuce, pickled radishes, Sriracha mayo and cilantro

I could have had another one, but opted instead for a cupcake from Cupkates. Tiramisu, thank you. (Not gluten free but sometimes I live dangerously). The next day I was still wanting more. So I came up with a vegan version and now Imma gonna share it with YOU.

MAUI WOWEE VEGAN FISH TACO
with crispy battered tofu and carrot relish

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Serves four.

Ingredients:

For the tofu:
Sprouted firm tofu (Wildwood brand)
Braggs liquid aminos (you could use Tamari too).
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup gluten free flour or wheat if you don’t mind.
2-3 T nutritional yeast
1-2 T sea salt
pepper

For the relish:

2 carrots, grated
2 T Veganaise (I use grapeseed)
1-2 T dulse flakes (you could also use crumbled nori)
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey (or agave if you want to be 100% vegan).

Toppings:

I used parsley (Vitamin K, yo!) but I think these would also be amazing with:
shredded red cabbage
arugula
jicama
avocado
cilantro
basil…the list goes on. Ask your belly what it wants!

You will also need:

Corn tortillas
olive or coconut oil
lime or lemon

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Start the relish:

Grate your carrot, and mix with the other ingredients (veganaise, dulse, mustard, honey or agave). I’ve made the ingredients approximate, so feel free to experiment to your own taste. The only way you could ruin this is by adding a ton of mustard (or way too much honey/agave). Otherwise, it’s pretty forgiving. Set aside so that the seaweed can infuse the mayo with its fishy flavor.

To make the tofu:

Drain the tofu and press excess water out (wrap it up in a dishcloth and give it gentle pressure).

Cut into slabs approx. 1/4 inch thick and lay in single file on a large plate. Liberally sprinkle with Braggs (go a bit easier on the tamari) and set aside to marinate.

Make the coating by combining all dry ingredients (corn meal, flour, nut. yeast, salt and pepper) on a small plate.

Heat up 2-3 T of olive or coconut oil in a large skillet (cast iron works best) on MED heat. Olive and coconut have a low fry rate, so while it takes longer for things to cook, keep the heat down low or you’ll get smoked out.

When the oil is ready, take your tofu slabs and dredge through the cornmeal mixture, patting the coating onto each side. Fry until golden brown on each side and then drain on a paper bag and set aside. A tip: Don’t scoot the tofu around too much, and when you lift to check with a spatula, make sure you are scraping under the coating so that it stays on the tofu, rather than the bottom of your pan.

Fry your tortillas in a minimal amount of oil (I used spray coconut oil from Trader Joes), until they are just a bit crisp and toasty on each side.

Cut up 2-3 slabs of tofu per taco into fourths. Layer in order with tofu – relish – toppings. Sprinkle with a lime. Repeat. You’ll have tofu left over which your children will devour (like mine did) or they keep well in the fridge, and you can make tacos the next day!

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Jeff was jealous of my tacos, since he made chicken for himself.

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If you make these, let me know what you think! Also, what’s on your plate lately?

Oh and P.S., this is the first of my Hey Good Lookin, What’s Cookin? recipe posts. xo

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7 thoughts on “Hey Good Lookin, What’s Cookin? Maui Wowee Vegan Fish Tacos

  1. Mary, I know this feeling of relief and gratitude that our body gives us when we occasionally have fish in a mostly vegetarian diet… I do listen to its needs and so far I haven’t had problems with lack of nutrients – but it’s true that I eat organic eggs once or twice a week.

    Once in a while, when I am eating out at a friends place and they have cooked chicken, I tend to let the smell guide me. It it’s appealing, I’ll eat some in my salad. And it does taste good.

    But I prefer buying fish for myself than meat, since the fish were living their own natural free life until they were caught…

    Thank you for sharing your quest with us – I see that I am not alone in trying to find a balanced diet that fits my own body (no gluten, sugar, cheese, or even fat unless in very small amounts, like olive oil in dressings, or mixed in a plate of warm quinoa).

    In fact only a few legumes (adzuki, mungo, black beans, lentils) and even fewer grains (rice, quinoa, millet) do agree with me, but since I rotate them in various combinations (with a good selection of greens and vegetables) for the sake of changing flavours in my meal, it apparently helps my body get what it needs in the process.

    Also, I find plain roasted nori to be a great snack when I get depleted at work from hypoglycaemia: I shred black crumbs all over the place, but I feel instantly restored, in mind and body, after a few leaves of nori – even my palate is satisfied, to the point that I often stop after half a package. (My other everyday staple is chai tea with almond milk.)

    1. thank you emmanuelle…SO great to hear resonance of shared experience. i had to laugh at the confession of “black crumbs everywhere”…the tell tale sign of a seaweed eater! i too like to snack on nori and its been heavy in the rotation lately. sometimes i roast it in little squares, but my daughter likes to take the full sheet, seeing if she can jam it whole into her mouth. 🙂

      1. I can quite picture this ;o)

        And I forgot to add that I have the same problem with fermented foods… I also find tofu and soybeans very hard to digest, but I’ve had soy milk almost every day for years until it dawned on me that it could be related to my recurring menstrual cycle problems. So I switched to almond milk (in the morning I make hot cocoa with maca powder, a good hormone regulator) and within the next month the problems disappeared… so I only have soy milk once or twice a month now.

  2. mmm mmm mmm mmm mm mm m.
    delish.

    your food story sounds intricate. you are unlocking your gut’s puzzles, and being true to yourself.

    and dang, girl, you iz a tofu whiz. i’d like to see some more of your creative eats as well…it’s an art.

    that slaw sounds delightful, and i will try it.

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