Tempeh is one of those ingredients that in the west, you are fairly unlikely to come across until you become a vegan. It originates from Indonesia. It’s made by turning whole soya beans into a solid, firm, cake-like slab, using a natural fermentation process involving oligosporus culture. It doesn’t look so appetising right now, but don’t be put off! The grey flecks occur naturally as a result of the fermentation process.
So there’s the science bit.
The first thing I need to say is that it can be hard to get hold of. Far harder than Tofu, which is a shame, because it’s a very useful and versatile ingredient to have in a vegan repertoire. I like it very much. It has an interesting texture, and is quite robust. It soaks up flavoursome marinades in the same way as tofu, and can therefore play a part in many different styles of food.
Recently we came across a small co-operative whole food shop in a tiny village in southern England, and they had some! So I bought 6 blocks to freeze.
Further to my previous post :Egyptian Mezze, I thought I’d try a simple Egyptian stew that traditionally, is served with poached eggs baked in the stew. (Shakshouka)
I decided to replace the eggs with a slice of marinaded fried tempeh, and I think it was quite delicious, and so I made a blog of it.
The key to cooking tempeh, before you do anything else, is to relax it, in a nice hot bath 🙂
Place the slab of tempeh in a saucepan of water that has been brought to the boil, and then reduce the heat to absolute minimum, so it’s not even simmering, and leave the tempeh in it for 15-2o mins. Remove the tempeh from the pan, and pat dry with kitchen towel.
It is now ready for a marinade.
For this recipe, I sliced the 227gms. slab of tempeh (defrosted if necessary), in half, reserved half in tupperware and refrigerated for future use. (Must be used within 3 days….mmm…I foresee a tempeh baken sandwich in the morning ….yes! )
I then sliced the remaining half in half again, and then into four thin slices, by cutting through the middle of the two pieces sideways, as you would cut through a bread roll. So I ended up with four thin square pieces, and half in reserve.
Ingredients for the marinade:
- Juice of a lemon
- 2 tbs.olive oil
- 1tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- 2tsps. smoked paprika
- 3 tsps. ground cumin
- 4-5 tbs. water
- 1 tsp salt
Mix everything together and immerse the tempeh slices,cut side down, in the marinade.
Leave for 2-3 hours, or even overnight.
Paprika, Pepper and Tomato stew, a wonderful addition to this Egyptian-Style Mezze.
(click image for link)
PAPRIKA, GREEN PEPPER AND TOMATO STEW
- 2-3 tbs.olive oil
- 2 green peppers
- 2 onions
- 500ml. tomato passata
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tsps. smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1tbs. hot oil (e.g. rapeseed oil) to fry tempeh
- Finely dice green peppers and onions and, in a wide heavy pan, fry them in olive oil 5-8 mins.
- Add crushed garlic cloves, fry 3 mins.
- Add smoked paprika, fry 1 min.
- Add tomato passata.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Warm through on a low heat and then cover and simmer gently. For 10 mins.
- In a heavy small skillet, heat 1tbs. of a hot oil ( I used organic rapeseed oil)
- Fry the 4 slices of marinaded tempeh 4-5 mins each side, taking care not to burn it. In batches if necessary.
- Then lay the tempeh carefully on the simmering sauce, so the tempeh doesn’t sink, but soaks up some of the juices.
- Cook for 3-4 mins, uncovered.
- Serve piping hot.