Carne asada fries exemplify how an offbeat local food trend takes off and goes national. An odd combination of french fries, avocado, sour cream, and in its original form, strip steak, this dish originated in San Diego in the 1990s and soon became a standard in casual Mexican restaurants in the American Southwest. Now it’s on the menu in such eateries nationwide. I first had vegan carne asada fries at Mexican Radio in Hudson, NY, and understood why this hearty dish took off. How great that it can be made with seitan instead of meat! You can also use another meat substitute like jackfruit.
Our version features strips of baked organic fries, seitan, and nondairy sour cream. It might not be the pinnacle of healthy dishes, but it’s so tasty that we can see why it spread like wildfire. Photos by Evan Atlas.
Vegan Carne Asada Fries
- Two 16-ounce bags organic frozen fries any variety
- 1/2 cup prepared salsa smooth rather than chunky
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 12 to 16 ounces seitan drained and cut into strips
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- 2 limes
- 8- ounce container vegan sour cream purchased or homemade (see note)
- 1 medium tomato diced
- Minced fresh cilantro for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Spread the fries on a large, parchment-line baking sheet.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the salsa, olive oil, and chili powder. Add the seitan and stir together. Transfer to a parchment-lined roasting pan.
- Place the fries and seitan mixture in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the fries are golden brown and crisp.
- Meanwhile, halve each avocado, remove the pit. Scoop the flesh out into a shallow bowl. Mash well. Add the juice of 1/2 to 1 lime, to taste. Cut the other lime into thin wedges.
- To serve, arrange some fries on each individual plate; follow by some seitan strips, then a dollop each of the mashed avocado and sour cream.
- Sprinkle with some tomato and garnish with cilantro. Serve at once.
Note: If you can’t find an all-natural brand and aren’t inclined to make your own, it’s easier to find good vegan cream cheese, like Daiya or GoVeggie. Thin out with water, stir vigorously to arrive at a sour cream-like texture. Add a little lemon juice for tartness.