Vegan Tacos, Nobu Style

Previously, on –


A number of years ago, I saw the Nobu/Matsuhisa restaurants add tacos (!?!?) to the menu….and then Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook suggested a vegan approach to the taco’s (Ten Tacos, p 86, 87) in 2011.

So now I wanted to take a crack at making the tacos, with an eye to the holiday meals later in the year. To begin, I needed to understand the recipe, particularly the “red salsa” listed over at foodfashionista ( ).  It seemed to me that the amount of salsa seemed a bit much so, I wanted to scale it down to:

13 oz + 2 t grilled and peeled tomato (2 tomatoes(?))
1 grilled serrano
2/3 clove of garlic (grated)
5 T+ 1 t chopped cilantro
1 T chopped onion
1 t maldon salt

Interestingly Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook offered a Grilled Tomato Salsa recipe (p. 165) (microbatch) –

10 oz grilled tomato (2 tomatoes (?))
3/4 grilled green jalapeno (divide in half after grilling and split one of the halves yet again and take 1 part)
1/2 clove garlic minced
1/8 oz chopped cilantro (3/4 t?)
1/8 oz minced onion      (3/4 t?)
1 tsp salt

primary items for the salsa

The recipe called for grilling then cubing the tomato, grilling then cube-dicing the jalapeno and then combine them with

grilling them pan side down for about 7 minutes at medium heat to get the tomato skins off

the rest of the ingredients.  The foodfashionista report indicated that the ingredients were to be pureed. It seemed to me

diced up/cubed grilled jalapeno


Getting the skin off one of the tomato halves


cubing/dicing up one of the four tomato halves


3/4 tsp of diced white onion


3/4 tsp of finely minced cilantro leaves


1/2 t of grated garlic for the salsa

the Grilled Tomato Salsa was the canonical version and the way to go.

assembled salsa with 1 t of salt

So now that I was able to make the fresh yellow corn taco shells at home, I just needed to figure out how I wanted to fill them.    Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook’s Ten Tacos only listed the pairing of okra and kabocha, a survey from my copy of The Flavor Bible suggested that carrots, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini would be compatible with the Grilled Tomato Salsa.  And while I could take the course and make the tacos with seafood sashimi, I thought it would be nice change of pace to do a vegetarian taco.  So my wife and I decided to do cubes of zucchini blanched in salt water with the grilled tomato salsa.

A nice zucchini for the vegetable base of the taco


…zucchini diced/cubed quickly blanched in boiling salt water for about 30 secs and then shocked with ice water

Once all the taco fillings were prepared, I carefully drained the salsa and then began assembling. Into each taco, I placed

assembling 6 mini tacos with the zucchini base

about a tablespoon of the the zucchini.  I then carefully topped each taco with a teaspoon of the grillled tomato salsa.

Nobu mini taco with zucchini and grilled tomato salsa

My wife loved the appetizer and was surprised by the combination of flavors tied to the taco shell.  The taco shell itself had no salt; and the salt came from the salsa.  I thought the flavors were wonderfully balanced; my spouse’s only request was to add a little more of the seeds and rib from one of the jalapeno halves for a bit more of a kick.  And while I had a bit of leftover zucchini (that could go into a salad) and quite a bit of the salsa, I suppose it wouldn’t take that much more time to make a few more taco shells and then get some cooked lobster from Legal Seafood Market at Chestnut Hill to make a Nobu lobster taco in the next day or so (or for that matter, king crab from Whole Foods at Newtonville).  If I chose to make the mini taco as part of the opening four part vegetable appetizer course for the Thanksgiving holiday meal, I’d probably make one per person.  If I chose to the taco as part of the salad course, I’d probably make two pieces per person.


Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook “Ten Taco” vegan combinations –

  • Korean red kimchi (nappa), cooked brown rice
  • Korean green kimchi (‘water kimchi’?), cooked white rice
  • olive oil/salt sauteed button mushrooms, avocado salsa
  • cubed salted water blanched carrots, Matsuhisa salsa
  • okra, grilled tomato salsa
  • Fresh yuba (cut up), avocado salsa
  • eggplant, yuzu miso
  • steamed kabocha (cut up), grilled tomato salsa
  • cubed salt water blanched zucchini, maui onion salsa
  • red bell pepper, wasabi salsa

A sample listing of Nobu taco conbinations around the world (as of this writing) – 


Tuna Jalapeño Salsa*
Salmon Avocado*
Lobster Wasabi
Snow Crab
Wagyu Aji Amarillo
Spicy Vegetable


Lobster wasabi
King crab with tomato salsa
Salmon spicy miso
Tuna with tomato salsa
Scallop with tomato salsa
Wagyu spicy ponzu


Selezione di tacos vegetariani
Selection of vegetarian tacos


Kobe Chili Ponzu (2 pcs)
Chicken Anticucho (2 pcs)
Salmon Hot Miso (2 pcs)
Crab Wasabi Aioli (2 pcs)
Lobster Wasabi Aioli (2 pcs)
Tuna Dry Miso (2 pcs)


Lobster Wasabi
King Crab with Tomato Salsa
Salmon Spicy Miso
Tuna with Tomato Salsa
Scallop with Tomato Salsa
Wagyu Beef Spicy Ponzu


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