Mexican Al Pastor is made kind of similarly to a Gyros, the meat is on a spit and sometimes there is a pineapple on top and bits of pork are shaved off as people order. Al Pastor literally means “in the style of shepherds” which is interesting when you think of these Mexican shepherds wandering around, pockets full of chili peppers, waiting to find a spot to start a fire, and picking cilantro and pineapple for the meal. Since they didn’t have vital wheat gluten they killed one of their flock and even today, with gluten being plentiful, they still would rather use pork. Or at least, here in Texas they use pork. I guess that means Anthony Bourdain is happy.
This vegan version I came up with obviously wasn’t on a spit, although that would be a lot of fun! But it was still really yummy. Dan was eating leftover bits out of the pan and the dogs were staring at us grunting the whole time we were eating. It was almost perfect but not quite, something was missing so I might come back to the recipe, especially since it may just need tweaking, more smoked paprika maybe and some adobo sauce would make them perfect. But really this meal was great. If you have only had American tacos your whole life (hard shell, ground “beef” with taco seasoning, lettuce, tomato, and “cheese”) I implore you to try some alternative tacos, this will be a real treat.
I started with my favorite recipe for boiled seitan which is from joanna vaught’s site. But I changed the spices from chicken to Pastor.
Al Pastor Seitan Cutlets
2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour or chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 T onion powder
1 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 T ancho chilies powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp fennel
1 chipotle, ground
1 Pasilla, ground
2 cups cold water
2 T grapeseed or light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
fake ham bouillon
First, bring the water to a boil and then get the temperature down to a mild simmer. Mix the dry ingredients together and then the wet ingredients together and then mix everything together in a bowl. It will be tough because the vital wheat glueten soaks up the liquid really fast. Knead it for a minute or two and then tear of a golf ball sized piece. Form a ball with your hands and then place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll it into a flat disc and then pull it off the paper. Stretch it out as much as you can and then put it in the water. Repeat until you have no more dough. Simmer the seitan for an hour making sure to not let it boil. I try and turn the pieces over throughout the cooking process to make sure they are simmered evenly.
For the Tacos Al Pastor
red onion, 25% minced 75% cut into half moons
2 yellow wax peppers (that is what I had any pepper, even bell peppers would work)
1 Serrano, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of Coca cola
4 Pastor-Style Seitan Cutlets, chopped
When the seitan is nearly done put a large skillet on hot and add cooking oil. Add the onion that was cut in half moons and cook a minute or two being careful not to burn. Add the peppers and the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Add the seitan, pressing the pieces against the bottom of the pan to crisp the outsides. When the seitan is starting to look crispy add the coke and deglaze the pan. Let it reduce for a minute or two and then serve immediately on warmed tortillas topped with cilantro, pineapple, and the minced onion. Enjoy!
UPDATE: the next day I realized what was missing before, what I had done wrong was that I served the pineapple raw. It is MUCH better if you cook the pineapple after the seitan is mostly done. So good.