Tacos de Tofu Southwestern


“[Japanese] Folding Screen with Indian Wedding and Paseo de Ixtacalco (back), Mexico, second half of the 18th century, Buch Molina Collection, photo © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA by Yosi Pozeilov” *****
Tacos have been around since earlier than the 14th century in Mexico- starting off with corn, “referred to as the seed of life.” The Mayans went so far as to believe that humans “were made of corn by the Gods.”* In 1529, the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun worked to create a complete record of Aztec food history. Later on in Mexican history, (referring to the tortilla we know today), hints of the Machine Age had moved to Mexico by the 1940’s and processing masa made tortilla making even easier*. The etymology behind tacos means “spiced meat in tortilla,” which was a term given by Mexican Spanish silver miners who compared the dish to the wax paper wrapping filled with gunpowder used to explode holes in mines**.

The Southwestern USA climate is known for being hot and arid, and is located around New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Descending from Siberia, the natives, correctly known as the “Anasazi” or more commonly known as the Pueblo (by the Spanish), lived off the land on squash, maize and beans. Unlike Mayan and Aztecan cultures, that slowly disappeared post-Spanish settlement, the Southwestern natives augmented their own villages with modern Spanish tools and knowledge around the 1600s, giving their way of life more chance of sustaining in the future***.

Known as the “meat of the fields”, tofu has been around since the Edo period of Japan. Soybeans were known for thir quality of flavo but were not an agricultural commodity, and so only eaten on special occasions. However, in the US around the 1970s, obesity rates were on the rise in the US and more health-conscious Americans demanded vegetarian options. American soybeans were primarily only used for soy sauce productions until tofu blends (a mix of US and Japanese soy) came to be in order to sustain this high demand. Tofu blends lack the flavor of traditional Japanese tofu, but are able to be locally produced and inexpensive!****


Chopping and mixing: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes


  • 1/4 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 fresh cayenne (or any other small spicy chili), minced
  • 1/2 packet of extra firm tofu, shredded with fork
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning mix (sometimes I buy the premade one from the Mexican grocery store or I make my own)
  • 1/4 tsp oregano seeds or 1/2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 chipotle pepper, canned with sauce, minced and take 1 tsp of the sauce from the can
  • cilantro (for the topping)
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes (to taste)
  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedge


First, dice all the veggies and put them aside.

Then take the tofu and shred it. It should look like this:


Once done, heat frying pan to medium heat and add a little bit of organic coconut oil or olive oil. Once heated, add onions, bell peppers, chilis, and chipotle pepper with 1 tsp sauce from the can to the oil and stir until the onions turn translucent and a little golden. Like this:


Then, add the taco seasoning, cumin, oregano, salt, tofu and chipotle pepper with a little bit of the sauce from the can. Cook until well mixed (about 5 mins). It should look like this:


Then serve it on top of some skillet-warmed corn tortillas. Top with cilantro, lime, salt and pepper and chili flakes (if you like it real spicyyy).

¡ahí está!


Should I buy local or organic?

Tofu is pretty difficult to find local, unless your local health food store or asian market makes it fresh. I have found some that do make it fresh in Cary, NC. It’s pretty fun hopping from asian market to asian market to find it. But it’s easier to buy organic, and soy is one of those things that you just don’t want to have pesticides or chemicals sprayed on.

Tortillas- buy them local! Mexican grocery stores are the most delicious places with the most amazing sweet smells wafting through the air. Don’t miss out. Also, check out your local Panaderia- you will not be disappointed. This is also where I got my mango and passion fruit juice pulp (listed below in pairings). Also, to save gas, you can buy the chipotle peppers from here and produce and spices. It is much appreciated when you support a small business in your town. Although, most times I have been to the Mexican grocery, there are not many organic choices, so bell peppers and chilis probably won’t be organic.

How many does it serve?

About 2, but you can easily double or triple the recipe.

What does this pair well with?

South of the Equator, tropical juices are very popular- probably due to the large variety of fresh fruits available year-round. If you’re feeling exotic like me, pair it with a passion-fruit mango juice made from pulp you can buy at any local Mexican market, or try and make a juice out of local fruits from your area!

Also made a fresh salad with lettuce, tomatos, olives, and banana peppers. Just trying to keep it fusion.

How long can it last?

Warm the tortillas as needed, but the tofu lasts about a week in the fridge.


**“Online Etymological Dictionary – Taco”. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
*** http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h949.html
**** http://www.tofu-as.com/english/tofu/history/index.html
***** http://unframed.lacma.org/2012/01/12/the-influence-of-japanese-art-on-colonial-mexican-painting

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