A true Baja California experience requires sunny, breezy patios and a plate of tacos. We aimed to re-create the feel of a Baja-style fish taco in our home kitchen, instead bringing veggies to the forefront.
We thought that battered cauliflower bites, drizzled with a cool and creamy vegan sauce, were the perfect stand-in for the fish. We wanted to avoid the mess of deep-frying, so we cut the cauliflower into large florets and roasted them.
To boost their flavor, we dunked the pieces in canned coconut milk seasoned with garlic and spices and then rolled them in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut. Not only did this add richness and the flavors of a cabana-shaded getaway, but it also mimicked the crisp exterior texture of batter-fried fish.
A bed of crunchy slaw with juicy mango and spicy jalapeño provided the perfect balance of sweetness and heat. By using equal parts vegan mayonnaise and dairy-free sour cream, plus cilantro and a bit of lime zest, we were able to whip up a vegan crema to top it all off. Just add cerveza and sunshine. For a spicier slaw, mince and add the jalapeño ribs and seeds. Serve with lime wedges.
Baja-style cauliflower tacos
Start to finish: 40 minutes
3 cups (7 1/2 ounces) coleslaw mix
1/2 mango, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chile
Salt and pepper
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 head cauliflower (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
8-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
1 recipe Cilantro Sauce (recipe follows)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 F. Combine coleslaw mix, mango, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
Spray rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Combine coconut and panko in shallow dish. Whisk coconut milk, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt together in bowl. Add cauliflower to coconut milk mixture; toss to coat well. Working with 1 piece cauliflower at a time, remove from coconut milk, letting excess drip back into bowl, then coat well with coconut-panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere; transfer to prepared sheet.
Bake until cauliflower is tender, golden, and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes, flipping cauliflower and rotating sheet halfway through baking.
Divide slaw evenly among warm tortillas and top with cauliflower. Drizzle with cilantro sauce and serve.
Makes about 3/4 cup
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup dairy-free sour cream
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.