When I hear the word “vegan,” the first thought that comes to mind is “boring, cardboard, tasteless food that’s supposed to be good for you”. That was before my recent dining experience at The Seabirds Food Truck, an Orange County-based food truck, promoting a sustainable and cruelty-free lifestyle, while bringing convenience to high quality, healthful food. After my most recent experience, I can proudly say without any hesitation, that my eyes, as well as my mind have been altered to the possibilities of eating vegan.
Seabirds Truck is the brainchild of executive chef, owner and creator Stephanie Morgan. Known to her growing list of followers as the “Mama Bird,” Stephanie has an extreme passion for vegan cooking and organic produce all supplied by a community of local growers.
Her mission: Simple. Take the fear out eating vegan by showing the public that vegan doesn’t have to mean boring or tasteless. Actually, it can be quite fun.
Morgan and her crew of six, equally passionate vegan foodies, referred to as “birds,” tour around Southern California, feeding throngs of diners, eager for her fresh, healthy fare. After today, I can proudly say that I am now one of the initiated.
I was first introduced to The Seabirds Food Truck during season 2 of the Food Network’s hit television show, “The Great Food Truck Race,” hosted by celebrity chef, Tyler Florence. Unfortunately, Stephanie and her team didn’t walk away with the grand prize, but they did manage to raise awareness about the Vegan lifestyle, and that exposure has proven priceless, as more people actively seek out the truck.
My Fears About Vegan Laid To Rest:
I opted for something that would surprise me, and chose one of Chef Stepanie’s most popular items, (gluten free) Jack Asada Tacos!
When served, the tacos appear just like any traditional taco that you’d find at any taquerria with one unique twist: Seabirds Truck substitutes meat with Jackfruit.
Jackfruit is native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, but is most commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking.
Resembling the Durian, another exotic fruit found primarily in Thailand, Jackfruit has the appearance of the Durian minus the overwhelmingly pungent odor. Although, upon further research, I did discover that Jackfruit can smell like rotting onions, but don’t worry ~ I didn’t smell or taste either.
The preparation for the Jack Asada Tacos is quite simple. First, the Jackfruit is squeezed to remove any excess liquids from the flesh, then shredded with a fork, like pulled pork, and flash grilled. Next, it’s removed from the grill and allowed marinate overnight in a traditional Asada marinade.
“If this is what vegan tastes like I could seriously get into this”.
After the fruit is removed from the marinade, it’s grilled once again to reincorporate all the flavors with some onions. During the grilling process, the onions release their sweetness and caramelize with the marinated fruit. This adds a nice smoky layer of flavor to the finished product. Finally, the shredded fruit is placed on top of two warmed, soft corn tortillas, and completed with a drizzle of salsa verde, freshly chopped onions and a sprinkle of cilantro.
The Taste Test: If I were served these tacos at a dinner party or restaurant, and didn’t know that “meat” was actually Jackfruit I honestly wouldn’t know the difference.
Next Up: A Salad That Tastes Almost Like a Dessert
For my second choice, I decided to go for a salad. Actually, it was the ingredients that initially attracted my attention. Once I spotted the Kale Salad with Bosc Pears, Dried Cranberries, Pecans & Sweet Cinnamon Vinaigrette, I knew I had to give it a try.
Organic kale is used in place of lettuce or spinach as the foundation of this salad.
The Seabirds Food Truck’s menu rotates daily, so if you visit the website, you’ll find only a sampling of some of the more popular items. Keep in mind that the final availability of specific dishes is dependent upon availability of the ingredients. In other words, go with a open mind.
A rare occurrence amongst mobile chefs, Chef Stephanie recently wrote her first e-cookbook, The Seabirds Vegan Revolution. This downloadable cookbook features over 30 recipes for some of Chef Stephanie’s most popular sides, salads, sauces, and gluten free dishes, including her infamous recipe for Dirty Rice with Chickpea ‘Sausage’ & Spicy Kale that was created during the “Truck Stop Challenge” on the Great Food Truck Race.
Menu Selection 4
Overall Score: 4.2
Where to find them: