Like Tacos Árabes, Tacos al Pastor are influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine. Traditionally, they are cooked on a spit shwarma-style with a pineapple above. The filling is sliced off into thin strips. Tacos al pastor are red because of the achiote paste used in the rub as well as all the delicious dried red chiles. What makes this taco particularly interesting is the pineapple, which is also found in the rub. Pineapple has an enzyme, called bromelain, that tenderizes the protein in the veggies and making the filling in- credibly soft and lush in texture. The longer you let the marinade do its job, the more this process will continue. This recipe looks complex because of the long ingredient list, but it’s actually fairly simple, so don’t let the length intimidate you. These are some of the best tacos you’ll ever have.
Tacos al Pastor
Region: Puebla | Heat Level: 3 | Makes 10 Tacos
- 4 guajillo chiles, rehydrated
- 4 ancho chiles, rehydrated
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons achiote paste , optional but recommended
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 to 1 cup water
The Filling (choose either the seitan or eggplant)
- 4 cups seitan strips or 3 large eggplants, cut into 3-inch x 1-inch strips
- 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch strips (prep this after your seitan or eggplant has marinated)
- 3 cups chopped pineapple (prep this after your seitan or eggplant has marinated)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 20 (5 to 6-inch) corn tortillas (or 10 very thick corn tortillas)
- Salsa verde
- Fresh cilantro
- In a blender or food processor, puree the rehydrated guajillos and anchos with the chipotles, adobo sauce, achiote paste (if using), garlic, pineapple, salt, cumin, cloves, and enough water to make a very thick marinade. Transfer the marinade to a large shallow bowl. Toss the eggplant or seitan with the marinade to coat and let it sit for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the grill. In a bowl, toss the onion, pineapple, oil and salt together, then transfer to a well-oiled grill pan. Transfer the marinated seitan or eggplant to a different well-oiled grill pan.
- Transfer the grill pans with the filling and the onions and pineapple to the grill. The onions should caramelize and the pineapple should develop a slight charring. Stir every 2 to 3 minutes. If you are using seitan, stir every 2 to 3 minutes. If using eggplant, stir it every 2 minutes until it starts to soften. At this point, stir it every minute. As soon as the eggplant is soft, get it off the grill. Do not overcook.
- If using very thick tortillas, you only need one tortilla. If using regular tortillas, you will need two stacked on top of each other. If using handmade tortillas, warm them on the grill for about 5 seconds and only on one side. Then immediately fill them. If using storebought tortillas, don’t warm them on the grill because they tend to be too fragile. Fill a tortilla with seitan or eggplant, then the onions and pineapple. Top with salsa verde and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Make it on the Stovetop
Make the marinade and marinate the filling the same as above. Toss the onion and pineapple in the oil and salt as above. Sauté the onion and pineapple in a wide saute pan over medium-high heat until the onion is caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the filling and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times. Do not constantly stir the filling, or it will take longer to cook. This is more important than adhering strictly to the cooking time. When the filling begins to darken, remove from the heat and fill the tortillas.
From Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. ©2014 Jason Wyrick. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.