Crispy Blackened Tofu Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema
Vegan tacos made with seasoned crispy tofu, crunchy cabbage, and creamy avocado-lime sauce!
I’ve been dreaming about going back to Maui since the day we left. Between the beautiful rainbows, the lush green mountains, the clear blue water, and cute sea turtles, it’s a place that’s very difficult for me to forget.
One memory that I frequently find myself escaping to is lying next to the Serenity Pool at The Four Seasons Hotel. There’s just something about being served incredible food while laying in the warm sunshine and looking out on a stunning view of the ocean. I can’t quite put my finger on it though.
I’m sure throwing back three tropical drinks had something to do with it, but I swear the blackened Mahi Mahi tacos they served me in that pool chair were some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
I know that might seem confusing, seeing how I call myself a vegetarian, but I guess when it comes down to it I’m kind of a pescatarian because I still like to eat fish on occasion. Brandon, on the other hand, is much more strict with his commitment to not eating animals so I know better than to try cooking it for him. The majority of the time I just wait to have it until we visit somewhere that serves wild and locally caught fish.
Anyways, the inspiration for these came from a craving for those tacos. So that we could both eat them, I decided to try a vegan version with crispy blackened tofu!
Now there are few tricks to getting tofu nice and crispy and the first one is making sure that you buy it firm or, even better, extra/super firm.
From there you have to press the excess water out of it using a few dish towels and a heavy book or a tofu press. After that, you dice it up into small squares and then bake it in the oven until it’s light golden brown.
Once it’s slightly crispy from baking, you coat it with seasoning and starch (<this is key for crispiness) and then sauté it in a skillet so that it gets a nice flavorful golden crust.
I’m telling you, if you’ve never had tofu this way, forget everything you know about it and give this method a try. Even if you use a different seasoning or sauce, baking it and then sautéing with starch will make for the best texture.
To really take these tacos over the top, I paired the tofu with a tangy cabbage slaw and avocado-lime crema.
The extra crunch from the cabbage paired with the creamy texture of the sauce and the spice of the tofu makes for one crave-worthy taco.
I know all of the steps might seem intimidating but if you bake the tofu and prepare the cabbage ahead of time then it comes together really fast. Plus this recipes makes ten tacos so there’s a good chance you’ll have leftovers for lunch. I brought mine to work and then pretended I was in Maui while sitting at my desk. It works, trust me. ;)
1 package extra firm tofu (approx. 14-16 ounces)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves
juice of 3 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
diced green onions for topping
- Drain and rinse tofu and then press it by placing between two kitchen towels and topping with a heavy book. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes so that excess moisture is drawn out. Alternatively, you can accomplish this by using a tofu press.
- Next preheat the oven to 400°F and then line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Begin preparing the slaw by combining the cabbage with the vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Massage it with your hands for a few minutes then set it aside to marinate.
- Once the tofu has been pressed, dice it into 1-inch cubes and then transfer to the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes on each side until it’s light golden brown. Then turn the oven off and set tofu aside to cool.
- Meanwhile mix together the spices (paprika to pepper) in a large bowl. Using your hands, lightly coat the tofu with one tablespoon of oil and then transfer it to the bowl with the spices. Coat each piece evenly then sprinkle the starch on top. Mix with your hands or a spoon until each piece is coated with the starch as well.
- Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat and then saute the tofu on for about 5 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your skillet, you might have to do this part in two steps, using one tablespoon of oil at a time.
- Allow the tofu to sit in the skillet on warm then prepare the avocado crema by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor and blending until smooth.
- Warm the tortillas (I usually microwave them for 15-20 seconds) then place tofu inside. Top with cabbage and avocado cream and serve immediately.
- Tofu and cabbage can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The avocado crema can be stored for up to 2 days.
Prep time includes pressing tofu