Sometimes the thought of trying to veganize another recipe (and failing) is just too much to handle. I find that some cuisines are more adaptable than others, and some may be surprised to learn that one the easiest ones to modify is Mexican cuisine. Here are 11 easy swaps to veganize traditional Mexican cuisine:
1. Almond Crema for Crema
A tangy sour cream can be easily substituted for nut-based cream sauce like this almond crema and this cashew-based one. The nuts are soaked, then blended with seasonings and a plant-based milk. Use it to top your enchiladas, chilaquiles, and taquitos.
2. Maitake Mushrooms for Chicken
There’s a very meaty and savory mushroom called hen of the woods (or maitake), and it can easily substitute shredded chicken in almost any recipe – like these shredded maitake tacos! Simply season the mushrooms with spices and sauté until golden brown.
3. Tempura Batter for Egg Batter
Vegan chiles rellenos are possible with this eggless tempura batter. Dip the stuffed chiles in the batter and fry until golden brown. The result is a crispy and delicious coating that can also be used to make tempura vegetables.
4. Portobello Mushrooms for Steak
Marinating portobello mushrooms in a carne asada marinade and sautéing them until golden brown results in a savory and delicious taco that you can serve at your next cookout. They can also be grilled with great results.
5. Vegan Nacho Cheese for Processed Nacho Cheese
You can make a delicious vegan nacho cheese out of potatoes, carrots, jalapeños, onion powder, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. It’s fast and easy to make, and it tastes delicious on nachos and even baked potatoes!
6. Avocado for Cheese
There isn’t always time to make a quick batch of vegan cheese or crema. When this happens, top your enchiladas with a couple of slices of avocado. The avocado gives the dish the creaminess you’re craving, plus it provides healthy fats, like in these mole enchiladas.
7. Vegetable Stock for Chicken Stock
This is the simplest swap of all. Dishes like poblano rice, traditional arroz a la Mexicana, soups, and stews can be instantly veganized by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. You can buy it at the grocery store or you can make your own in a few easy steps.
8. Jackfruit for Pork
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that when immature has the texture of shredded pork. The flavor is very mild, and it absorbs any marinade or flavoring you add to it. Be sure to buy green jackfruit, not sweet jackfruit in syrup. You can make carnitas tacos, tamales, burritos, and even nachos!
9. Soyrizo for Chorizo
This is another easy swap. You can find soyrizo or other vegan versions of chorizo at the grocery store. Indulge in your love of chorizo by making potato and chorizo tacos, chorizo sopes, and frijoles charros.
10. Plant Milk for Dairy Milk
Unsweetened plant milks like almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and soy milk can be swapped for almost any recipe that calls for dairy milk. The variety available at most grocery stores is impressive. You can use them to make creamy paletas, licuados (smoothies), and breads.
11. Artichoke and Hearts of Palm for Fish
This is the most unexpected swap out of all! Use artichoke hearts and hearts of palm to make ceviche, crab cakes, and fish tacos. The chopped hearts of palm and artichoke mimic the texture of fish, and the addition of seaweed flakes infuses a fishy flavor to the recipes.