Spicy Eggplant Barbacoa Tacos
In the cattle ranching regions of Mexico, barbacoa is typically made with meat from a cow’s head—the eyes, cheek, brains, and more. The combination of the mostly unwanted parts gives the meat a texture unlike any other. Since going vegan, I’ve been on a mission to find a good alternative to this traditional Sunday morning meal at Casa Garza. Enter eggplant. A longtime star in the vegan culinary scene, eggplant’s versatility really shines in these perfectly textured ranch-style tacos.
- 2 eggplants, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
- 3 cups water
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fresh chile de árbol or serrano chile, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dark chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 8 corn tortillas
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 limes, quartered
Soak the shredded eggplant in the water with the lime juice and 1 teaspoon of salt for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté half the onion with the garlic and chile de árbol or serrano chile for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, chipotle powder, pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the shredded eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring as needed. You want the eggplant to cook out some of the liquid and brown slightly. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the tomatoes and season again with salt and pepper.
Serve on warm corn tortillas with the rest of the chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Eddie Garza is a vegan chef, cookbook author, and leading figure in the movement to reform food systems in Hispanic communities. This recipe can be found in his book ¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook.