Friday, June 4, 2010

Tempeh

It's all about comfort foods this week. Noodles and curry coconut sauce in this case.. I started with one of Bittman's braised tempeh recipes. Have you ever tried tempeh? I have come around to really liking it, although I was laughing with friends recently that I can't even tell what a normal person would consider good anymore, because my taste for food is so varied these days. I do drink fermented beet juice, after all (yes, yes, it sounds horrific.. but you don't even know how good it is). I think tempeh falls in to the same category for many people.

I remember years ago buying tofu and putting it in stir fries, and then eating around it because the truth was, I didn't like it. But now that I have learned the tricks to cooking it up properly, it is a fantastic satisfying meal.

I had the same experience with tempeh. Tempeh is an Indonesian invention, traditionally made of whole soy beans formed into a cake and fermented. It is very high in B vitamins. Like all fermented bean foods, it has a full, earthy flavor, and can be a bit much for some palates. When I first tried it out I would use entire blocks of the stuff, grilled or whatever, and I just didn't like it. Bittman is a genius with these kinds of things though. In his discussion of tempeh, he explains that because it is so strong, it does well paired with really rich or sweet and sour tastes. Also, he suggests crumbling it into dishes instead of trying to eat a huge piece of the stuff. In this recipe, you crumble it into an oiled pan and fry it with garlic, ginger, and curry powder and then add even parts veggie stock and coconut milk and let the sauce boil down for 15 minutes or so. The original recipe calls for some chopped cabbage added near the end, but I had some kale on hand and it worked nicely.

Fortunately kale, like other substantial and slightly bitter greens, also mellow out beautifully with the addition of something rich (coconut milk) or sweet and sour (for example, try kale sauteed with some apple cider vinegar and maple syrup).

I served the dish with rice noodles. With help from Bittman, the tempeh was fantastic.

3 comments:

nicole said...

hmmm.

Claire said...

hmmm?

EO said...

I'll vouch for my wife on this one -- it really was very good.