Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cook: Tofu Asada Burrito

Background: Pop-ups seem to be all the rage this summer. I've seen them on the internet, read about them in magazines, even saw one go across the sports feed on ESPN a few nights back. I decided to get my own version going as a way to make a few extra bucks this summer. I could've done a pop-up food service station, that would probably go hand in hand with this blog, but my heart desired something more challenging. So I opened a pop-up detective's office. People come by with their problems and I use my keen sense of deductive reasoning to figure out the solution.

Scene: So on Tuesday, I'm sitting behind my folding table perusing the internet, when in walks a girl wearing black framed glasses. She has the word vegan tattooed on her wrist and she seems pretty distraught. I shut my computer and ask her how I can help. Before she answers, all the color drains from the world, and the two of us are just a couple of black and white beings staring confusedly at each other. It was like one of those old detective movies. She recovers from the shock of seeing all colors fade and tells me her situation. Her lover was visiting Cantina Dos Segundos in Philly and ordered a Vegan Cheesesteak Burrito. The burrito is made of seitan and, unbeknownst to him, his batch of seitan had been cursed by the dark lord himself. Her boyfriend took a bite and immediately was transformed into a bottle of mushroom ketchup. The waiter taking care of him didn't notice the extra bottle of ketchup he just noticed the man who had dined and dashed without paying his bill. He piled the ketchup bottle with all the other ones. When his girl went looking for him she couldn't figure out which one was him. The restaurant owner held the bottles for as long as the Department of Health would allow him but the day after she visited was when they were off to the recycling factory. If she didn't find him before then, he would be gone forever.

I took the case and made the trip to Philly. I figured out the solution pretty easily. I'm not going to give specifics because I know some readers of this blog are trying to encroach on my pop-up detective idea. I'll just say that the answer was in the writing. Anyway, I had to book it from Philly pretty quickly and I didn't even get a chance to eat one of those Vegan Cheesesteak Burritos. So, when I returned to Tampa, I closed up shop for the day and went home to craft my own version. The one difference is I didn't go full blown cheesesteak because I didn't have any of the ingredients for seitan or vegan cheese on hand. So this became more of a Tofu Asada Burrito. Still a total score in my mind. I'll give the cheesesteak version a try next week.

Tofu Asada Burrito (inspired by Cantina Dos Segundos)

For the tofu asada:
-one block of tofu, cut into small rectangles
-juice of three limes
-1 Tbs. olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
-1/3 onion, diced
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1/2 tsp. paprika
-1/2 tsp. oregano
-1/4 tsp. coriander
-1 tsp. garlic salt
-fresh pepper (to taste)

For the caramelized chipotle onions (adapted from Closet Cooking):
-1 Tbs. olive oil
-1 large onion, small dice
-2 chopotles in adobo sauce
-1 Tbs. brown sugar
-1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
-1/2 cup water   

For the burrito:
-yucca fries
-vegan cheese (optional)

1. Make a marinade by mixing all the ingredients except for the tofu together in a sturdy container. Add in the tofu pieces and coat evenly. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least a day (I wound up marinating mine for four because things came up).

2. On the day you plan on making the burritos, start with the onions. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pan with a large surface area and lid. Add the onions and the rest of the ingredients into the warm oil. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more water if necessary. The onions should be nice and caramelized. If they aren't, continue cooking until they are. 

3. While the onions are caramelizing, make the tofu. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium high. Once it is hot, add the tofu chunks and cook until they are slightly charred on all sides (about ten minutes stirring periodically). A couple notes. The less tofu you put into the pan, the more control you will have over the charring. Also the more marinade that gets into the pan, the longer you will have to cook the tofu for it to color. I did my tofu in batches and poured just a tiny bit of marinade in with each batch. Set aside when finished.

4. On a warm tortilla, layer the tofu and onions. On top place the yucca fries, salsa, lettuce and vegan cheese. Place the burrito in the oven long enough to get the cheese nice and melty. Slice in half and serve.

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