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I was at the grocery store the other day looking for jackfruit to make “carnitas” tacos for my Cinco de Mayo recipe. Instead, I discovered an entire vegetarian section I had never taken notice of before. There was tempeh, there was seitan, there was just about any protein a vegetarian needed, except for jackfruit. Since there weren’t any jackfruit options, I looked at the next best option for tacos, mock chicken.
I’m not big on mock meat. I don’t eat meat very often, but when I do, it’s to eat actual meat. The mock meat looked just like chicken, but had a different texture. Uncooked, the texture was more similar to dried bean curd. It’s smooth to bite into, and chewy once in your mouth. You don’t have the strands like you do with real meat. It initially had a subtle soy taste to me, but that dissipated after several bites. As for putting the mock chicken into the tacos, they tasted pretty much like chicken.
The other item I looked for at the grocery store that day was gluten-free tortillas. I saw some brown rice tortillas and knew I had to give it a try. This was a mistake. I tried to use them as best I could, but they are difficult to work with and not worth the trouble. They feel very fragile and are brittle even after heating. Once heated, it’s very easy to go from tortilla soft to uncooked noodle hard. I use uncooked noodles as an analogy because that is literally how some of my tortillas turned out after being heated.
I’m crossing off brown rice tortillas as a suitable gluten-free tortilla choice. Next time, I would try thinly sliced jicama as a tortilla because that seems like it could be a better gluten-free tortilla alternative. And although I actually liked the taste and texture of the mock chicken, I don’t think I would eat it regularly considering it is mainly made from soy. I would much rather just use regular chicken. I felt very adventurous trying the mock chicken and brown rice tortilla, but I must admit I probably would not use either item again. Regardless, these tacos are quite delicious and loaded with veggies!
This is an easy taco recipe that can be made vegan or non-vegan depending on your choice of “chicken” and “sour cream”. Three tacos are placed next to each other and decorated like the Mexican Flag in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. You can skip the color assembly if you are just making regular tacos.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into strips
1 cup of mock chicken strips
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3 tsp high smoking point oil
- 2 garlic cloves – minced
- 3 tsp fresh oregano – minced
- 3 tsp lime juice (about ½ lime)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 flour tortillas (or brown rice tortillas if GF, use with caution)
- 1 avocado – sliced (save both halves of avocado shell)
- 3 sprigs of cilantro leaves
- 3 radishes – peeled, julienned
- 1 cup romaine lettuce – julienned
- ½ cup red peppers – diced
- ½ cup tomatoes – diced
- ¼ cup yellow onions – diced
- ⅛ cup (30 mL) salsa verde
- ⅛ cup (30 mL) non-dairy sour cream
- ⅛ cup (30 mL) salsa
- 4 small oregano leaves
- Mix the salt and pepper together in a bowl. Toss the chicken strips into the mix and rub onto all surfaces of the chicken.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant.
- Places the chicken strips into the skillet. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to flip the chicken to cook the other side for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat when the chicken is golden brown. (Save browned garlic and oregano bits.)
- Mix together the lime juice, cayenne, and cumin in a bowl. Add the lime dressing onto the chicken and toss well.
- Use a fork or your fingers to pull the chicken into strands.
- Warm the tortillas individually on both sides in a skillet. Place the tortillas onto a taco rack or in a 13 x 9 inch (32 x 22 cm) baking pan. (You can put the avocado shells next to the tortillas to help hold them up if you don’t own a taco rack).
- Gather the chicken and taco ingredients. Each taco filling ingredient will be split among 3 tacos. Only 1 sauce is used per taco. Assemble the tacos in the following order for each stripe of the Mexican flag.
- Red pepper, tomato, chicken, radish, onion, salsa verde, avocado, lettuce, cilantro.
- Red pepper, tomato, cilantro, avocado, lettuce, chicken, onion, trimmed radish.
- Dollop sour cream onto the center of the taco.
- Avocado, cilantro, lettuce, chicken, onion, radish, salsa, red pepper, tomato.
- Sprinkle the saved garlic and oregano bits into an eagle shape onto the sour cream area of the white stripe.
- Place the oregano leaves in a V shape below the eagle.
- Enjoy immediately!
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