04 May 2010

Tempeh Attempt

As a fairly new vegetarian (going on three months!), I’ve been trying to scout out different forms of protein that I can add to my diet.


A girl can only take so many black beans and edemame.
Let me rephrase that.
A girl cannot live on sunchips and cinnamon rolls alone.


When I was in Springfield this past weekend, I made my way over to my favorite store in the world, Mama Jean’s. Mama Jean’s is an all-natural market that is just, well, amazing. I knew they would have plenty of options that I could try. Some of my all-time favorites have come from that store - bulk bins of whole wheat couscous, jars of maple almond butter, and my standby toast of choice - Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread.


In my search for cruelty-free protein, I’d read about this stuff called tempeh and seiten, and while it sounded pretty funky, I figured I would give it a try. One unexpected bonus – tempeh is really cheap! Like $2 a pack. That makes me happy.


So what exactly is tempeh? Basically, it’s a high-protein food of Indonesian origin made from partially cooked, fermented soybeans.


Mmmmm. Moldy soybeans. Doesn’t that sound delicious??
Nutritionally, it's pretty great. For 1/3 of the package, it has only 160 calories, 7g fat, ZERO cholesterol (take that, red meat!) 9g carbohydrates, 3g fiber and 16g protein.
I decided to try the West Soy original tempeh. It came in a little refrigerated pack, much like a package of hot dogs.
When you take it out of the pack, however, it does not resemble hot dogs in the least. More like bumpy cheese.
According to a recipe I decided to try, you're supposed to cut or slice the tempeh like you would chicken, then steam it for 10 minutes in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Tempeh is pretty bland and boring on it's own - marinating is a MUST. For my first tempeh attempt, I decided on one of my favorite food groups: Chinese.
What can be better than green peppers, onions and pineapple in a soy sauce? I figured that if the tempeh was absolutely disgusting, the pineapple would make up for it.
Here's my recipe (you all know I don't measure when I cook, so have fun trying to recreate this.):
Pineapple Stir-Fry Tempeh
1 pkg tempeh, cubed (or sliced) and steamed
2 small onions
2 green peppers
1 can pineapple chunks
Minced garlic
Ground ginger
1/2 C. tamari (soy sauce) - actually could use less. It's pretty salty.
5-6 T. pure maple syrup (Not sugary pancake syrup. This stuff is the Real Deal.)
Some water (about 1/4 C.)
A little bit of olive oil
Black pepper
Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a dish. Place the sliced and steamed tempeh in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Spray a skillet or saucepan (you'll need something with sides) with cooking spray. Take tempeh out of the marinade and put the pieces in the skillet over high heat, but reserve the liquid. Brown the tempeh on each side for a couple minutes, then take it out of the skillet and set aside. Pour the marinade into the skillet and add green peppers and onions. Let simmer for a little bit until veggies soften. Add pineapple, including juice. Bring to a boil. Mix a little cornstarch with water, then drizzle in the pan. Stir until it thickens to however thick you like it.
Put the tempeh in a bowl and spoon some of the veggie/pineapple mixture over it. 

It's not a very good picture, but the tempeh and veggies were really good! It was a little chewy like chicken, and the marinade was good. I will definitely use less soy sauce next time...it was really, really salty. In my opinion, I would have liked it to have more of a pineapple flavor. I think next time I'll use pineapple juice and less soy sauce in the marinade.
Next up: attempting to use seitan.
Wow. Spellcheck just tried to tell me "seitan" should be spelled "satan." I bet M would wholeheartedly agree.
He wasn't at home last night to witness my dinner creation. There was a baseball game a million miles away that I just didn't have the energy to drive to after work. 
I'm such a good, dedicated coach's wife.
Plus, I'm in the middle of making some freaking AWESOME Mother's Day gifts that are a little time-consuming, but you'll have to wait until after Sunday to see what it is so I don't ruin the surprise. M saw them on the counter this morning and said, "That's really, really good!!" That made me happy.
I spent almost all night working on the project since SOME people's mothers live two states away and the post office doesn't really like it when you stand at their counter and say things like, "What?? Why can't you get it there in 15 minutes?? I don't understand!!" Goal: get it mailed by tomorrow with gigantic signs that have warnings like Don't Open Until Sunday or Else You Will Never See Your Grandpuppies Again!! (Actually, the grandpuppy excuse would probably backfire. See my previous post for more clarification. My in-laws bought us that chair. Oops.)
On top of being a good, dedicated coach's wife, I'm an excellent daughter-in-law. (sarcasmscarcasmsarcasm)
Question of the Day: What's your favorite meat-free recipe?


Allyson said...

There's something available here in STL or online called MatchMeat that you might like. A lot of the vegan restaurants serve it and it's pretty tasty. I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but occasionally I like some tofu etc. http://www.matchmeats.com/

Melinda said...

I love seitan but not a fan of the tempeh...Your dish looks good though.

RCW said...

Your mother's day gifts might be better than mine but at least my breath doesn't smell like soybeans.

Favorite meatless meal: pasta with marinara!