Neither my husband nor I have ever tasted the original Mexican tacos. And I'm not sure if this is my second or third time to cook tacos, nevertheless, it's a recipe I am very proud to declare as a "must-try!"
The first and only tacos I've ever eaten from the moment I was born until a week ago was that cooked by a vegetarian friend probably 8 years ago. But that moment of gastronomic experience lives in me until now. She used ground textured soy protein then, but I used frozen-and-thawed tofu-- a very accessible ingredient for a wonderful ground-beefy effect.
red paprika (cut into strips)
bell pepper (cut into small cubes)
3 taco shells (regular size)
grated cheese (optional)
tofu, 1 block
oil, 3-4 tbsp
ajinomoto, 1/2 tsp
black pepper, 1/4 tsp
tomato, 1/2 cup
cumin, 1 1/2 tsp
soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp
sugar, 2 small pinches
Open one pack of tofu, drain water, put it in a clean plastic bag then freeze for at least an hour. If you freeze tofu ahead of time, thaw it hours before you need it. Then, while it's still a bit cold and frozen, squeeze it tightly to remove as much water as you can. It helps if you keep it in the plastic bag and just let water drip off through the opening (of the plastic bag) and to the sink. Then just squeeze a bit more to mash the tofu until it's about the size of tofu bits on the photo below.
Put a nonstick pan over medium high heat then pour oil as soon as it gets hot.
When the oil is hot, toss in the tofu bits and season with black pepper, ajinomoto, cumin, chili powder and soy sauce. Mix well and stir-fry until some tofu bits are quite brown and crunchy.
Toss in the tomatoes. I used canned tomatoes because fresh tomatoes here are quite expensive. But if you're using canned tomatoes too, you should scoop out the tomato chunks using a fork to minimize wetting the ground tofu taco filling or else you'll end up with soggy tacos.
Add sugar and mix well for 2-3 minutes. Turn off fire.
Fill taco shells with tofu filling, top with shredded lettuce, bell pepper cubes and paprika strips!
Tips and tricks
The way my husband and I enjoy eating this is, first, having a bite on the taco, munch it a little followed by a bite on the paprika strips-- this way, the paprika gives a burst of refreshing sweetness to the whole taco! I tried biting the paprika simultaneously with the rest of the taco and the effect was different-- the paprika just blended in very subtly, almost unrecognizable, to the strong cumin and soy sauce flavor.