Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coconut ‘Shrimp’ Tacos with Fried Plantains and Collard Greens...

Ah - I’ve been trying to post for the past two days and was unable to due to some sort of technical difficulty that appears to now be sorted out. This is the recipe I’d planned to post Tuesday, and since I haven’t been able to post in a couple I’ve got a nice backlog of posts waiting to be published. So stay tuned for all the delicious treats I have in store!

As winter is slowly coming to it’s end for another year I find I too am gradually moving away from the cozy, comforting meals associated with the colder months. It seems to always happen this way, about a month or so before the true end to a season my body is already geared up to enter the next phase. While I’m still enjoying soups, and other wintery treats, for the most part my heart and tastebuds are set on spring and summer.

Now before I was a vegetarian, shrimp was always a food I associated with spring, and especially summer. Coconut shrimp in particular, and over the course of the weekend I found myself longing for that sweet, crisp, coconut flavor. Of course I had no desire to eat actual shrimp, and no intention of doing so, but I wanted to find a way to recreate that flavor and texture, and I wanted to enjoy it wrapped in a summery Caribbean inspired kind of taco.

I have to say that despite some of my reservations while cooking, this dish turned out phenomenally and totally satisfied that tropical flair I was craving. Of course these little tempeh bites taste nothing like what I remember of shrimp but that’s not the point, the point is the fried coconut! Combined with the plantains, the collards, the coconut milk drizzle and the mango salsa this dish was heaven on a plate!

Now to put this whole thing together it does require a bit of work. There are several steps you have to go through to make the different taco components but it is so worth it, and if you prepare ahead of time it actually doesn’t take that long. So give it a go, really in the grand scheme of things it’s not a lot to ask for some good homemade coconut ‘shrimp’ tacos! Enjoy, and stay tuned for the salsa recipe which I plan on posting tomorrow.

Coconut ‘Shrimp’ Tacos with Fried Plantains and Collard Greens

Coconut ‘Shrimp’

1 lb Tempeh cut in cubes
1 15 oz can coconut milk
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried dill
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp kelp granules
½ C Panko Breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs if you're GF)
3/4 C Coconut Flakes (I used unsweetened)
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning Blend (or to taste)

Taco Fixin’s

1 Bunch Collard Greens chopped in bite sized pieces.
Whole Wheat or Corn Tortillas
1 Recipe Sweet Shredded Fried Plantains (Recipe Follows)
Roasted Vegetable Mango Salsa (Recipe to come)
Diced Avocado
Diced Green Onion
Coconut Milk Drizzle (Optional)

Sweet Shredded Fried Plantains

3 Plantains
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Cajun spice blend
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
Water if needed

- First prepare your tempeh. If you’re working with two 8oz blocks of tempeh as I was cut each block horizontally into 6-8 slices. Then slice vertically in half or in thirds depending on how big you want your cubes. Place tempeh into an airtight container when cubed.

- Mix together the coconut milk, garlic powder, dill, kelp, and hot sauce. Pour over the tempeh. Close the container give it a good shake until all the tempeh is covered and then place in the fridge and let marinate for 1-2 hours.

- After the tempeh has marinated mix breadcrumbs, coconut flakes and Cajun seasoning in a shallow bowl. Grab a tempeh cube from the marinating dish give it a shake to remove any excess coconut milk then roll it in the breadcrumb mixture until it’s breaded on all sides. Set aside and repeat until all cubes have been breaded. Reserve the marinade mixture if you want to make a coconut drizzle.

- Once all of your tempeh has been breaded you can cook it 1 of 2 ways. The first way being to fry them. If you have a deep fryer just pop them in there for a few minutes until they’re golden brown. Then remove them and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. If you don’t have a deep fryer you can fry them in about a ½ cup of coconut oil or nuteral vegetable oil in a large frying pan, until golden brown. If however you’re like me and like to try and keep on the healthier side of things you can bake your coconut tempeh in the oven.

- Preheat your oven to 400'F (200'C) lightly grease a baking sheet then place your tempeh cubes on it. Spray the top of each cube with a tiny bit of non-stick spray then place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven turn each cube over and return to the oven to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Smaller cubes will cook faster and larger cubes will take longer so times may vary.

- While your tempeh is cooking you can work on your plantains. Grab 3 large, green plantains. Cut off the ends and peel. I find the easiest way to be running the tip of a knife down two sides then just dig in with my nail and roll the peel off.

- Once the peel has been removed take a vegetable peeler and run it along the plantains like you would to peel a carrot. You’ll get nice long thin strips of plantain, continue until all plantains have been turned into strips. You’ll probably be left with a core of plantain that your peeler can’t turn into strips, and that’s okay just cut it into thin rounds and toss it in with the strips. Waste not want not right?

- Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Once melted add the plantains and stir until all strips are coated. Add in the cinnamon, sugar and Cajun Seasoning. Stir again until thoroughly coated and then cook on medium heat until plantains are golden brown and soft. About 8-10 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently so no plantains stick to the bottom, and you may need to add more oil, or water. I added in about a 1/4 of water because I didn’t want to use more oil, and it worked brilliantly. When plantains are finished remove them from the heat and if you like you can drain them on a paper towel. I personally didn’t bother draining them.

- To make your collards just add an inch of water into a pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add your chopped up collards and steam for 3-5 minutes until they’re bright green and wilted. They shouldn’t be mushy but soft, with still a bit of texture. Remove them immediately from the steamer basket and place onto a plate or in a bowl.

- To make the coconut drizzle all you have to do is stir 1-2 packets of stevia into the reserved coconut marinade along with 1-2 tbsp flaked coconut. Set aside, until ready to use.

- To assemble your taco place one tortilla on a plate. Layer on some collard greens and then a generous spoonful of shredded plantains. Top with 4-5 cubes of coconut tempeh, and a bit of coconut milk drizzle. Top with diced green onion, avocado, and a generous spoonful or two of roasted vegetable mango salsa. Wrap up tight and enjoy!

*** Note - This dish can be made Gluten-Free if using Corn Tortilla's and GF Breadcrumbs***

1 comment:

  1. I loved this dish. =) I wish we had more. hah! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.