We’ve been dedicating our summer segments on the Calgary Eyeopener to recreating iconic dishes from well-loved restaurants around the city, and this week brought us to Native Tongues Taqueria (at 235 12 Ave. S.W.) and Vegan Street (at 1413 9 Ave S.E. — there is another in Mission, which has a different menu).
I’ve had plenty of requests to recreate dishes from both spots, so I thought I’d make two of my favourite things this week.
I adore brussels sprouts, particularly the ones at Vegan Street. I order them every time I go.
One of the reasons restaurant brussels sprouts are so good is they often use the fryer. Cooking halved sprouts in hot oil makes them wonderfully caramelized and crispy, and they cook in just a few minutes.
I use about an inch of canola oil in a heavy (enamel-coated cast iron) Dutch oven, or you could roast yours, cook them in a hot skillet, or toss in oil and cook in your air fryer.
The coating makes them — it’s a delicious dust of pulverized pumpkin seeds with nutritional yeast, garlic and salt, with a creamy drizzle made with vegan mayo, Tajín and lime juice. (They also serve theirs with chopped jalapeños — I took one out of the fridge but forgot to chop and add it, so it’s missing from the photo!)
I also made esquites this week — a salad of Mexican street corn is a perfect hot-weather meal, and as we’re on the brink of corn season in Alberta, I thought I’d make one.
The esquites are simple and delicious at Native Tongues — uncharred corn, a bit of crumbled feta, some herbs, and a loose limey, mayo-y sauce.
I decided to grill my corn on the barbecue first for a bit of extra flavour, but you can go either way. This is also a great way to use up leftover cooked corn on the cob.
Recipes for esquites are generally corn, green onion, cilantro, and perhaps some crumbled feta, dressed with mayo and lime juice and spiked with chili powder, but there are so many other things that would be delicious to add — black beans or chickpeas, diced peppers or tomato, jicama, even peaches or watermelon. (It may no longer technically be esquites, but would be delicious!).
Vegan Street Brussels Sprouts
Feel free to cook your sprouts any way you like, but they’re truly wonderful (and close to the original) when cooked in hot oil.
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds (I used sliced almonds)
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 1 tbsp Tajín
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp salt
- Brussels sprouts (as many as you’d like to cook)
- Canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
- Chopped or slivered jalapeños, for serving (optional)
- Fresh lime juice, to taste
- Salt, to taste
To make the dust, blend the pumpkin seeds (or almonds, which I used because I didn’t have pumpkin seeds, and it was delicious) with the nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt until the mixture is well-blended and has the consistency of tower-style Parmesan cheese.
To make the crema, whisk together the mayo, Tajín, lime juice and salt.
Trim the stem ends of the brussels sprouts (leaving some of the stem so they will stay intact) and cut in half lengthwise.
Heat about an inch of oil in a short, heavy pot or deep skillet to about 375 F or until it bubbles around a wooden spoon.
Cook the brussels sprouts (in batches, if you need to, so that they don’t cool the oil too much) until deep golden and tender.
Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Toss with a generous amount of pumpkin parmesan (and they also add a squeeze of lime and big pinch of salt, to taste) while they’re still hot.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh jalapeño and drizzled with the crema.
Serves as many as you like.
This Mexican street corn salad was inspired by the one at Native Tongues, but as I grilled the corn, it’s very different.
Feel free to wing it with measurements, and add other things you think might taste delicious! I like sprinkling crushed Doritos over my grilled corn. It (or regular tortilla chips or corn chips) adds a nice crunchy contrast to esquites, too.
- Corn on the cob
- Your favourite mayonnaise
- Chili powder
- Lime juice
- Crumbled feta (optional)
- Chopped green onions or chives
- Chopped cilantro (optional)
- Crushed Doritos or corn chips (optional)
Shuck your corn and cook on a preheated grill, turning as needed, until tender and char-marked, or stand your cobs upright, cut the kernels off and sauté in a skillet with a drizzle of oil for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender and starting to turn golden on the edges.
If you grilled your corn, cut the kernels off the cob and transfer to a bowl.
Dress your warm corn with mayo, a pinch of chili powder, a squeeze of lime juice and big pinch of salt.
Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with crumbled feta, green onions and cilantro, or toss them all together before serving.
If you like, top with crushed Doritos or corn chips at the very last minute.
Serves as many as you like.