Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marinated Tempeh Stir-Fry

Tempeh is my new favorite protein to use when preparing a vegetarian dinner. The flavor of the fermented soybeans is well-suited to simple stir-frys, and the consistency is nothing like the soft or crumbly tofu I've had in the past. The first time I served it and asked the hubs what he thought, he responded 'I'm still not convinced this isn't meat' (as he devoured his bowl).  Ace.  

I usually make a variation on a theme of the recipe below, swapping out whatever vegetables I have on hand, and changing the flavor profile by adding sushi vinegar, basil, onions, fish sauce (sparingly!), etc.  So take this as a blueprint and go wild, using whatever marinade/sauce and vegetable combos you feel like.  Make sure your soy sauce and any other sauces or seasoning are gluten-free if you're cooking g-f.  

Southern Spoon blog: marinated tempeh stir-fry
marinated tempeh and fresh vegetable stir-fry

I've served this with both rice noodles (as pictured above) and rice, and I prefer a combination of brown and white rice.  The natural tang of the tempeh and the added marinade can be intense-- the rice does a good job of absorbing and more evenly distributing the strong flavors.  You might also try using a thinner Asian noodle, adding a teaspoon of rice bran or sesame oil after they are cooked to keep them from sticking.

I'm sure tempeh would also work well in a Thai-inspired soup or a Moroccan-style tagine, though I'm too hooked on this stir-fry at the moment to experiment with anything else.  Give it a go and see what you think-- it's a delicious alternative to the bean-based meatless meals we tend to turn to.  

Marinated Tempeh Stir-Fry
3-4 hearty servings

1 package tempeh (regular or your preferred grain mix, not pre-marinated)
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons sushi vinegar, sake, or rice wine vinegar
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 red bell pepper (capiscum)
Additional vegetables as desired (baby spinach, mini corns, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, etc.)
Additional seasoning as desired (1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, juice from 1/4 of a lime, 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, etc.)
3 cups hot, cooked rice (white, brown, or combination) or thin Asian noodles

Chop the tempeh into 1 cm cubes, and place in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the sushi vinegar over the tempeh, tossing to coat. Leave to marinate while you chop the vegetables.

Finely chop the onion and garlic, then coursely chop or thinly slice the remaining vegetables you'd like to add to the stir-fry.  

Coat a wok or large skillet with a good spray of olive oil (adding a teaspoon of sesame oil if you have it), and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, sauteeing for about 6-7 minutes, then the garlic, tossing evenly.  At this point, you may add a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes, and/or the juice of a 1/4 of a lime, if desired.

Drain the tempeh and reserve the marinade.  Add the tempeh to the vegetable stir-fry and continue to toss until the tempeh is hot.  At this point, taste the stirfry and see whether you would like a stronger flavor.  If so, add the reserved marinade, a teaspoon at a time, until the desired flavor is achieved.  

Serve immediately over rice.  

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