Back in January, I was so bold as to issue a hopeful call that 2015 might be the Year of Tempeh. The reasons: a growing interest in plant-based eating and an also-growing realization that fermented soy is the most nutritious (and easiest to digest) form of that high-protein staple. Well, I can’t exactly say that I’ve seen the tempeh explosion I was hoping for, but I’ve been having my own personal year of tempeh nonetheless.
I’ve maintained a two-block-a-week habit, for the most part. And I’ve continued scouting for good recipes and techniques to take advantage of tempeh’s best qualities (it cooks quickly and absorbs marinades well) and negate some of its worst (the texture can be a bit too firm, dry and crumbly). One of my favorite strategies from my initial bout of research has been reinforced by all of my cooking since then: Instead of merely marinating tempeh, it’s best to cook it in the marinade, too. That can be a one-step process, such as baking tempeh in a simple-but-delectable combination of apple cider, Dijon mustard and more seasonings. Or it can be just one step among several, such as simmering tempeh in a marinade before draining, breading and frying.
My most recent find is a recipe from Douglas McNish’s big book, “Vegan Everyday: 500 Delicious Recipes”(Robert Rose, 2015). He calls for the simmering technique — which cuts down on the slight bitterness that some eaters find offputting about tempeh, while also softening it — and follows it with pan-frying and then glazing. The glaze is a concoction of miso, maple syrup and ginger, and it coats the crisp cubes of tempeh in a shiny, sticky, sweet-and-sour sauce.
It meets one of my requirements for recipes competing to enter my repertoire: Whenever I make it, I’m compelled to double or triple it, so I can have leftovers to use in all sorts of ways. Soon, my year of tempeh will need to be redefined into years, plural.
Rate, scale and print the recipe in our Recipe Finder:
MAKE AHEAD: The sauced tempeh can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
8 ounces (1 block) plain tempeh
4 cups water
1/2 cup wheat-free tamari
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/4 cup unpasteurized brown rice miso or chickpea miso
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger root
Combine the tempeh, water, 6 tablespoons of the tamari and the garlic in a saucepan large enough to hold the tempeh (at least 8 inches wide) over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes (no stirring needed).
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tempeh to a plate; let cool for 10 minutes. (Strain and reserve the cooking liquid for another use, such as a noodle soup base or to cook rice.)
Use a sharp knife to cut the tempeh into bite-size cubes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the tempeh and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of tamari, the miso, maple syrup and ginger in a small bowl. Add to the browned tempeh in the skillet, stirring to blend and coat.
Serve right away or let cool, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.
Recipe tested by Joe Yonan; e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org