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These Jackfruit Tacos Made Danny Trejo Reconsider Vegan Options

Danny Trejo
Actor and Restaurateur
By Danny Trejo
Actor and Restaurateur
Danny Trejo is an acclaimed actor and restaurateur. He owns seven locations of Trejo’s Tacos.
Image by Ed Anderson / Contributor
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October 4, 2021

I'm sorry to sound like a jerk here, but I used to feel sorry for vegans. Owning Trejo's Tacos (and working on the Trejo's Tacos cookbook) changed that. While I like to cook, I knew I needed to turn to the professionals to dial in the recipes. When the chefs were creating the taco menu, we knew we wanted vegan options, and I thought that might just mean a lot of rice and bean burritos and papas con rajas (potato and chile) tacos.

One day they presented me with some new menu options and handed me a taco with a savory shredded filling that was spicy and tender. I was like: "What kind of meat is this? It's delicious."

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They said: "It's jackfruit." I had no idea what jackfruit was, but it turns out it's one of the world's superfoods and grows all over Southeast Asia. It's full of nutrients, and when you cook it in the same marinade we use for our carne asada, I swear you'll think it's meat. And if you're vegan, you're going to be very, very happy.

Jackfruit Tacos

Makes 12 tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 9.9-ounce cans jackfruit (about 2 cups)
  • 1½ cups carne asada marinade (recipe below)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon salsa verde 
  • ¼ cup Avocado Crema (recipe below) 
  • 1½ cups pico de gallo

Method

  1. COOK THE JACKFRUIT: Drain the jackfruit and pat it dry with paper towels. In a medium saucepan, stir the jackfruit with the carne asada marinade. Set the pan over medium-low heat, and cook the jackfruit until it starts to break down and shred, about 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. MAKE THE TACOS: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in aluminum foil, place them in the oven, and let them warm until they're fragrant and pliable, about 15 minutes. Unwrap the stack and line up the tortillas, assembly-line-style, on your work surface. In a small bowl, mix the cabbage with the salsa verde and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle each tortilla with the Avocado Crema. Place some warm jackfruit in a straight line down the center of each tortilla. Spoon a line of the salsa verde slaw on top of the jackfruit, and then top with a line of the pico de gallo. In a small bowl, mix the cabbage with the salsa verde and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle each tortilla with the Avocado Crema. Place some warm jackfruit in a straight line down the center of each tortilla. Spoon a line of the salsa verde slaw on top of the jackfruit, and then top with a line of the pico de gallo.

Avocado Crema

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 medium avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus extra to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to taste

Method

  1. Combine the avocados, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if desired.

Carne Asada Marinade

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • ½ large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons of the sauce
  • 2 medium jalapeños, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¾ cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
  • ½ cup pure olive oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Method

  • Combine the onion, chipotles and sauce, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, cumin, and paprika in a food processor or blender and puree.
 Excerpted with permission from Trejo's Tacos: Recipes and Stories From L.A. by Danny Trejo.
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Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo
Actor and Restaurateur

Danny Trejo is an acclaimed actor and restaurateur. He owns seven locations of Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Cantina, and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts in the L.A. area.