At the North Market yesterday, I was talked into buying some homemade tempeh at Toad Hill Farms. As I mentioned in my Market Report, I had been wanting to buy this tempeh since a few readers mentioned they had tried it last year, and asked if I had any thoughts about what to do with it.
Tempeh is a soybean-based meat replacement which, unlike tofu, is a complete protein due to the fermentation process. The soybeans are partially cooked and then innoculated with a friendly mold. After 24 hours or so, voila! The soybeans have formed themselves, along with the bloomy mold, into a cake which can be sliced, crumbled or grated and cooked in whatever manner strikes your fancy. Tempeh has a mild, nutty flavor with a slight fermented taste on the finish.
Tempeh is available in many larger supermarkets, certainly at health food stores, and at Asian groceries. And of course, you can buy homemade Tempeh on Saturday mornings at Toad Hill Farms at the North Market.
If you are afraid of tempeh, but still want to try it, you might want to replace the black bean paste in this recipe with something more mild and sweet, such as hoisin. Since black bean paste is also fermented, it enhances the fermented flavor of the tempeh.
This recipe is really good for you, provides complete proteins, is vegetarian - actually, vegan even, now I think of it, although that is by pure accident, I can assure you. But eating it did inspire me for another vegan recipe, which maybe I'll share if I can work it out.
Tempeh with Chinese Broccoli & Mushrooms - serves 2-4, takes about 20 minutes
1 block (12 ounces) tempeh, cut into 3/4" cubes
2 tbsp black bean paste (or hoisin)
1 tbsp chili paste (sambal)
1 tbsp rice vinegar (unsweetened)
1 tbsp, plus more, light soy sauce
1 tbsp neutrally flavored oil, such as soybean or corn oil
1 red onion, halved and cut into half moons
1 large bunch (about 6-8 ounces) Chinese broccoli (kai lan), washed in several changes of water
8 ounces flavorful mushrooms, such as shitake or crimini, cut into 1/2" cubes
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Place the tempeh in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, cover with water and set aside (this is an optional step, but helps to neutralize any acidic flavors in the tempeh) for about 5 minutes, then drain and place it back in a bowl. Cover with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and leave to mingle.
Stir together the black bean paste, chili paste, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and set aside.
Cut any thick stems from the Chinese broccoli into 1" pieces.
Heat a wok over high heat until it begins to smoke and remove from heat. Add about 1 tbsp oil to the wok and swirl. Wipe the entire wok with paper towels, wiping out any additional oil, and return the wok to medium high heat. Add the onions and the Chinese broccoli stems. Stir fry until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tempeh; add the black bean sauce and toss to cover everything. Cover until the mushrooms are almost completely cooked and then add the leafy parts of the Chinese broccoli. Sprinkle with black pepper, and stir with tongs until the greens have wilted and everything is coated with sauce. Turn the heat off and add the sesame oil, then toss to combine.
Serve with rice!