Sonoran cuisine has a strong affinity to the Southwestern U.S. and this taco is no exception. It uses a flour tortilla instead of the more typical corn tortilla. The preparation is very simple and straightforward, creating a taco with a few strong elements that create several layers of flavor in each bite. I’ve provided three variations, because I can’t decide which one is my favorite! If I have some extra time, I turn these into tacos de asador (tacos grilled over an open flame) and grill the filling instead of sautéing it.
You can find the Sonoran Tacos and a host of other authentic vegan Mexican tacos in my new book, Vegan Tacos, now available for preorder on Amazon here.
The Filling(choose either the beans, portobello, or seitan)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 cups of cooked pinto beans, rinsed, or 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped into bite-size pieces, or 2 cups of cubed seitan
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
4 Anaheim chiles or any long green chile, pan-roasted and cut into strips (pan-roast the chiles while you caramelize the onion)
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
Hot sauce of your choice
Before You Start Cooking: Start pan-roasting the chiles before you start cooking the onion and filling. That way, the chile will be pan-roasted right around the time your filling is done.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté it until well caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the skillet and return the skillet to the heat. Add the filling of your choice (either the beans, mushrooms, or seitan).
“How quickly and evenly the onions caramelize is very dependent on how crowded your pan is and how heavy it is. The timing is not so important as waiting for them to achieve a dark brown, but not black color. Let them sit without stirring for the first few minutes, then slowly stir them. If you start stirring them right away, you just prolong the cook time.”
Pintos: Lower the heat to medium. Add the beans and garlic to the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes. Season them with the salt and pepper, and then remove them from the heat.
Portobellos: Keep the heat at medium-high. Add the portobellos to the pan and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic about 1 minute before you are done cooking the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Seitan: Keep the heat at medium-high. Add 1 more teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add the seitan and sauté it for about 5 minutes, until it is well browned. Add the garlic and sauté this for 1 more minute. Season the seitan with salt and pepper and remove it from the heat.
“Notice the three different options? One of the things I loved about writing Vegan Tacos was the ability to use one recipe to cater to multiple tastes. Some people like seitan and some don’t. Some people want something with high protein like beans while other people might want the succulent feel of a properly cooked portobello mushroom. Some people might even want to mix together all three! I call this style of recipe “tacos al gusto,” which means tacos to taste or tacos as you like them. It captures the spontaneity and versatility of the true taco experience.”
Warm your tortillas. Add the filling, followed by the sliced roasted chiles, then the salsa, and a scattering of avocado.
“One of the hallmarks of Sonoran-style tacos is the liberal use of wheat tortillas alongside corn tortillas.”
Make It Simple
Instead of pan-roasting the chiles, just remove the stems and seeds and cut them into strips. Add the chiles, onion, the garlic, the filling, salt, pepper, and oil to the pan all at the same time. Turn the pan to a medium heat and cook this until the onion is lightly browned. It will take you about 10 to 15 minutes to get everything done, but you don’t have a bunch of different steps to take and you only need to stir the food every couple of minutes.
Make It Low-Fat
You can cook the onions without adding any oil to the pan. Just sauté them over a medium high heat in a dry pan, stirring them every minute or so. Once they are browned, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan, give everything a quick stir, and then add your filling of choice, along with the garlic, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the filling is done, about 2 minutes for the beans, 3 minutes for the mushrooms, and 3 minutes for the seitan.
How to Pan Roast
Turn a dry iron skillet or heavy pan to medium heat. Lay the chiles on the pan. When they blister on the bottom, flip them over and repeat until all sides are blistered. Peel the blistered skin away from the chiles and discard the stem and seeds.