St. Lawrence Market is one of Toronto’s most renowned and iconic landmarks and a favourite destination for both local and visiting foodies. First established as an open-air market square in 1804, it was once the center of city social life and a gathering spot for York’s growing population. The first official structure was built in 1820 but then destroyed by fire in 1849. The current Great Hall and Market building were built in 1850 and 1904 respectively and they are still an impressive architectural wonder, especially when compared to the city’s typical Brutalist and not terribly attractive buildings.
Though I admit that many of the market’s most reputed food stalls are anything but vegan-friendly, I still love the vibe of the place. And there are certainly a lot of treasures to unearth even for plant-based foodies, including a raw vegan restaurant on the lower level (Cruda Cafe) and Ying Ying Soy Foods, purveyor of all things tofu, as well as a whole host of fruit and vegetable stands. It’s a great place to wander around, and if you explore enough, you guarantee you’ll find something new and interesting.
I thought Tacos would be a great way to highlight a few of the many diverse products you can find in St. Lawrence Market, especially as one of my personal favourite stalls, Manotas Organics and Fine Foods, has an incredible selection of authentic Latin and Spanish foods. Everything from this ingredient list was found at the market, with the exception of the wheat gluten flour, which I already had on hand, but for a quicker meal could have easily been substituted for some of Ying Ying’s delicious flavored tofu.
A small tip: The Market can get crazy busy during peak times and weekends. If you want to avoid the crowds for a less hectic shopping experience, come within the last few hours before they close. They’re usually fewer people milling about.
For the Seitan:
¾ cups wheat gluten flour
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup of warm water
For the simmering liquid:
2 quarts of water
½ cup soy sauce
1 tsp of garlic powder
For the Seitan Marinade:
1/4 cup Peri Peri sauce (I used a mild lemon and herb one made by Nando, but use a spicier kind if you want more heat).
For the Guacamole:
2 Hass avocados
the juice of two limes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of fresh cilantro
For the Tacos:
10 corn tortillas (you can get them fresh at Manotas!)
1 log of Polenta
1 398ml can of black beans, drained and well rinsed
Cilantro and other fresh herbs for garnish
Salsa (I used a Mild Roja Tomato Salsa that I bought at Manotas!
For the Seitan:
1. In a food processor, add the wheat gluten flour, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, paprika, olive oil, soy sauce, and water. Pulse until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Remove the dough and divide into two separate chunks (Though it isn’t really necessary to divide up the dough, smaller pieces are less likely to separate when boiled.)
2. Prepare the simmering liquid. In a large add the water, soy sauce and garlic powder. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat. Add the chunks of dough to the liquid. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes, flipping the dough occasionally.
3. Remove the dough and set aside. The dough will have absorbed a fair bit of the simmering liquid, so you should try and get as much as water out of it as possible. Place the dough between two paper towels and put a plate or some other heavy object on top.
4. Chop the seitan in small chunks, and place in a medium-size bowl. Mix in the Peri Peri sauce and set aside to marinate for at least one hour.
5. Make the guac. In a small bowl, mash the avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic powder and cilantro
6. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. Place the 1/4 sliced polenta and fry until crisp and golden.
7. Assemble the tacos