Tacos With Tofu Chorizo and Potatoes. (Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

As anyone who has been reading this column for long knows, I have mixed feelings about mock meats, those (typically) highly processed substitutes for animal protein that are taking up an ever-larger footprint in supermarket refrigerated sections. I have a few favorites — “sausages” by Field Roast, Upton’s Naturals and Soyrizo — because they taste pretty good and have relatively few ingredients. But for the most part, I focus my diet and cooking on foods that are as close as possible to their natural state.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t jump at the chance to re-create one of those, from scratch, in my own kitchen, if the process seemed relatively simple. And that’s just what I found when I looked through “Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking” by Roberto Martin and saw something he calls Tofu-Rizo. You press the liquid from a sliced block of extra-firm tofu, crumble the tofu into small pieces (Martin suggests pushing it through a potato ricer, but I had better results with my fingers) and stir in vinegar, garlic and a spice mix made up mostly of ground chilies.

From there, the tofu chorizo can sit in your fridge for up to a week, or you can get right to business frying it up in a pan, much the same way you would the conventional version of fresh Mexican chorizo. Compared with the real thing, it’s a little drier, and finer in texture (depending on how much you crumbled it). But when you combine it with potatoes and stuff it into tacos, the tofu chorizo does just what you want: It offers a hit of spicy protein.

That means I’ll soon find other uses for it, stirring it into scrambled eggs, using it as a pizza topping, adding it to burritos and quesadillas. It’s a keeper.

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Tacos With Tofu Chorizo and Potatoes

Make ahead: The tofu chorizo can be refrigerated for up to 1 week before it’s cooked and up to 3 days after it has been cooked.

Servings: 6

Ingredients

For the tofu chorizo

  • One 1-pound block extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 dried ancho or negro chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 whole cloves or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

For the tacos

  • Salt
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Twelve 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • The flesh of 2 ripe avocados
  • 3/4 cup store-bought red salsa

Directions

  • For the tofu chorizo: Lay out a clean dish towel on your countertop, and line it with paper towels. Cut the tofu into 8 slabs and lay them in a single layer on the paper towel. Cover with another layer of paper towel and another dish towel. Use your palms to press down hard on the tofu to extract as much moisture as possible. (Don’t worry if the tofu breaks or crumbles.)
  • Working over a medium bowl, tear the tofu into small pieces and squeeze them between your fingers to crumble into small pieces. Stir in the vinegar and garlic.
  • Use kitchen scissors to cut open the chilies; discard the stems and seeds. Cut the chilies into 1/2-inch pieces and place them in the bowl of a food processor or a clean spice grinder. Add the chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander and cloves; blend until finely ground. Stir the spice mixture into the tofu until well incorporated.
  • For the tacos: Bring a pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat; add the potatoes and cook until they are just tender yet still hold their shape, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain.
  • Heat a large (dry) skillet over high heat. Cook the tortillas for about 30 seconds per side, transferring them to a tortilla warmer or wrapping in aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the filling.
  • Reduce the heat to medium; pour in the oil. Once it shimmers, add the cooked potatoes and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned all over, 15 minutes. Stir in the tofu chorizo and oregano and cook, stirring, until the mixture darkens, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently smash the potatoes to incorporate with the tofu chorizo, then turn off the heat.
  • Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the tofu chorizo-potato mixture, a few pinches of cabbage and a few slices of avocado. Top with salsa. Serve warm.

Nutritional Facts

Per serving

Calories: 470g Carbohydrates: 57g
Cholesterol: 0mg Fat: 20g
Fiber: 12g Protein: 18g
Saturated Fat: 3g Sodium: 690mg
Sugar: 5g

Original Source: Adapted from “Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking,” by Roberto Martin (De Capo Press, 2015).

Tested by: Joe Yonan