Danny Trejo’s taco recipes: From steak asada to vegan cauliflower

February 29, 2024

This taco dish was acclaimed food writer Anthony Bourdain’s favourite dish, says.

Bourdain filmed an episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown in one of Trejo’s taco joints in Los Angeles back in 2017.

Trejo told The Hollywood Reporter that the chef “made me feel good that I was in the restaurant business”.

Steak asada taco

Serves: 4


For the marinade:

½ large white onion, roughly chopped

3 chipotle chillies from a can of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce,plus 2 tbsp of the sauce

2 medium jalapeños, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves

Recipes in Trejo’s new book include everything from lowrider donuts to award-winning vegan cauliflower tacos

½ cup roughly chopped fresh coriander

¾ cup orange juice (preferably fresh)

½ cup pure olive oil

¼ cup soy sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp smoked paprika

For the taco:

12 tortillas

250g flank steak

50ml Trejo’s marinade

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa verde (makes about 2 cups):

12 medium tomatillos, papery skin removed, tomatillos left whole

1 medium jalapeño, left whole

2 garlic cloves

½ medium white onion

¼ cup chopped fresh coriander

Juice of 1 lime, plus extra to taste

1 tbsp kosher salt, plus extra to taste

For the verde slaw:

200g white cabbage

50g red cabbage

15g grated carrot

50ml salsa verde

5g sea salt

For the garnish:

Pinch of chopped coriander

1 lime, quartered


1. For the marinade: Combine the onion, chipotles and sauce, jalapeños, garlic, coriander, orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, cumin, and paprika in a food processor or blender and puree. Transfer the marinade to a large self-seal plastic bag or airtight container.

2. For the salsa verde: Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat until it is very hot, about four minutes. Add the whole tomatillos and jalapeño. They should sizzle when they hit the dry hot pan. Cook until the vegetables are black and blistered in spots and soft on one side, five to seven minutes. Use tongs to turn the tomatillos and jalapeño over. Add the garlic cloves. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic until the tomatillos and jalapeño are blistered and the garlic cloves are toasted but not burned, five to seven minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer the tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic to a blender or food processor and add the onion, coriander, lime juice and salt. Process until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if desired. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and chill before serving, or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to five days.

3. Marinade flank steak in Trejo’s marinade for at least 30 minutes.

4. Grill steak until charred, about five minutes on each side (depending on size).

5. Shred the cabbage for the verde slaw, add carrot, salt and salsa verde and reserve for later.

6. Heat up the tortilla, top the tortilla with steak asada, verde slaw and salsa verde.

Shrimp tostada

This zesty dish is simple but very effective

“A delightfully fresh and zesty dish made with a crispy tostada, sautéed shrimp, guacamole spread, garnished with pickled red onion and cilantro [coriander],” says Trejo.

Serves: 4


4 corn tortillas

10ml olive oil

32 shrimps

112g butter

20g garlic

Pinch of salt and pepper

20g red chilli

340g guacamole

For the garnish:

24 pickled red onions

Pinch of chopped coriander

1 lime, quartered


1. Lightly brush corn tortillas with oil. Lay the tortillas flat on a baking sheet and bake at 200C for five minutes. Then flip them over and bake them for an additional five to 10 minutes, or until the tortillas are crispy and golden.

2. Sauté shrimp with butter, garlic, pinch of salt and pepper and crushed red chilli.

3. Spread 85 grams of guacamole evenly on each tostada.

4. Garnish each tostada with six pickled red onions and a pinch of chopped coriander. Serve with lime wedge.

Cauliflower tostada

This simple yet delicious dish can be on the table in under half an hour

Use plant-based avocado crema to transform this into a vegan dish – with an optional addition of Mexican chilli flakes giving it a fiery kick.

Serves: 4


4 corn tortillas

1 medium cauliflower head

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled onions

Avocado crema

2 tbsp Arbol flakes (optional)

For the garnish:

24 pickled red onions

Pinch of chopped coriander

1 lime, quartered


1. Preheat the oven.

2. Scatter the cauliflower florets on the tray and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast cauliflower to your desired tenderness.

4. Heat up the tortilla, top the tostada with cauliflower, pickled onions and avocado crema. And serve with lime wedge.

‘Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes And Stories From LA’ by Danny Trejo (Penguin Random House, £23).

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