Tempeh, a cultured soyfood of Indonesian origin, is probably not familiar to as many people as tofu. While tofu is made from soybean "milk," tempeh includes the whole soybean.

The following recipe for Tempeh Oscar is a long-time favorite. And the soy "cream sauce" is highly versatile -- try it in pasta dishes, too.

MISO TAHINI SAUCE

(Makes about 1 quart sauce)

1 quart fresh soymilk (unflavored)

1/4 cup sweet white miso

1/4 cup finely ground and lightly toasted sesame tahini

Mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. This is best fresh, but can be kept up to 2 days.

TEMPEH OSCAR

(4 servings)

FOR THE BREADING:

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 cup barley flour

1/4 cup arrowroot

Paprika for color if desired

FOR THE TEMPEH:

1 pound tempeh

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup vegetable stock, white wine or sake

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup marinated and sliced dried tomatoes or 2 tablespoons capers or 1/4 cup chopped green olives (optional)

2 cups Miso-Tahini Sauce (see recipe above)

1 tablespoon lemon juice or rice vinegar (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

The tempeh for this recipe is usually marinated in shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and water for 2 or 3 days -- ratio depending on how salty you wish it to be. Start with 1 to 1 and go from there.

Slice tempeh into eight triangles about 1/4 inch thick and dredge in breading mix. Saute' in olive oil over low heat until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan and wipe pan clean.

Add stock, garlic, mushrooms, herbs and optional dried tomatoes, capers or olives. Reduce mixture over medium heat until it thickens and mushrooms are cooked.

Whisk the Miso-Tahini Sauce into the mixture until thickened. Add lemon juice or rice vinegar if desired. Add tempeh just until warmed.

Add chopped parsley, place tempeh on serving platter, cover with remaining sauce (this may need to be thinned with vegetable stock or soy milk). Garnish platter with watercress and lemon wedges.