Vegan Spicy Thai Mint & Basil Beef Tacos (for the Crock-Pot) with Cantaloupe Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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OK – so – sometimes you need to clean out the cabinets & the fridge & even the freezer.  Inspired by a recent food drive run by the post office, I filled a bag they provided with my non-perishables.  Largely – these were the canned meat items I had around for a certain badass – like a few cans of Spaghettios – and dry pasta & some other items I am unlikely to need – like all THREE of the huge ketchup bottles I got bundled together at Costco.   That done – I remembered I had three huge chicken breasts in the freezer – also purchased for visits from the badass.  I decided to cook these bad boys up all fancy-like, post them on my blog & then feed them to the dogs (as I am a vegetarian).

Here is what it was supposed to look like when done.  I used this recipe from THE COMFORT OF COOKING.  That is their image below.

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Here is how far I got – with a good 12 hours marinating in the fridge.

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Then, because my oven is fucked & the dials are stripped & the heat is uneven – I proceeded to burn the skin of this chicken BLACK.  I pulled the burned skin off & the chicken below was still moist & juicy & my dogs made very happy & very short work of it – as I made short work of a bottle of champagne, an entire bag of reduced fat chips & a boatload of chemical-burn-inducing onion dip.

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All-in-all, it was a pretty depressing mother’s day at the McCarthy house.  Unless you were a chicken breast stuffed canine.

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Earlier today – I posted a recipe for Spicy Cantaloupe Melon Salsa – seen above.   Made of chopped cantaloupe, jalapeno, onion, cilantro & lime juice – it is easy & refreshing & a great topper for these tacos.  It would also be good with chips or on fish or chicken or on my Vegan Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich.

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I made this Thai Mint & Basil Beef in a crock-pot but it could easily be done stove-top.  If you made it in a saute pan – it would not require as much (if any) water.

I found this just a tad on the salty side so really make an effort to use low sodium soy sauce.  I used Red Boat fish sauce (as I am not yet vegan) – but that can be subbed out with the low sodium soy sauce.  I also used Thai basil but any basil will do.  But definitely do not skip the basil – as that is the signature flavor here.

I get my shallots at Bangluck Market and they tend to be huge – like – apple-sized.  Here is the size of the one I used.  If shallots are not handy – a small onion is fine.

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Vegan Spicy Thai Mint & Basil Beef Tacos (for the Crock-Pot)

Feeds 4 easily

INGREDIENTS

8-12 tortillas

1 lb vegan beef

4 garlic cloves – minced

3 Thai chilies (or serrano) OR TO TASTE – split lengthwise – seeded to reduce heat

1 large shallot or small onion – diced

1 TBS rice vinegar

1/4 LOW SODIUM soy sauce (or fish sauce – if you are not vegan)

2 TBS dark soy sauce

1 TBS sugar

1 TBS sambal oelek (chili paste)

1 1/2 cups chopped Thai (or other) basil

1 cup mint – chopped

1-2 cups water

Lime wedges for garnish

IF STOVE-TOP – cornstarch (or flour) and olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Three chilies make this dish VERY hot – so beware!  When using the Thai chilies – I cut the top off one but then realized, I could leave the top on, split them lengthwise & all the flavor would get out but they would be far easier to remove from the finished dish.  So I gave the other two that treatment.

Then – I just threw everything into my crock-pot & went on a two-hour hike.

If you want to try this stove-top, I would cover the faux beef in a light dusting of cornstarch (or flour) and fry over med-high heat until it begins to brown a bit.  Remove the beef from the heat & add the shallots to the pan.  After a minute or two, add everything else, including the beef (but no water) & saute until the herbs wilt.  If you feel it needs water – add a bit.  Remove the Thai chilies before serving.

Then just go ahead & build your tacos & be sure to add LOADS of spicy cantaloupe salsa as it will help sweeten the salt of the dish.  Squeeze a bunch of fresh lime juice on there, too!

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