Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Braised Tempeh with Lemon Tahini Sauce

I read a lot of food blogs.  When I find a recipe I want to try, I save it as a word document and leave it on my desktop until I try it, at which point I put it away in a file somewhere.  My (electronic) desk is pretty messy these days... and weirdly, half the recipes are for cupcakes... The recipe below came from a non-cupcake file that had been sitting around for quite a while.  I decided at the last minute to make it for lunch today, because I had half a block of tempeh sitting around that needed to get used (the weird thing about tempeh: in a sealed package, it lasts FOREVER, but once the package is opened, its days are numbered).

Then I saw the "marinate on each side for at least 2 hours."  Hm.  Not going to happen.  So, I used Jes's recipe, but employed the method I've been using in the Orange Pan-Glazed Tofu and Tempeh recipes.  Frying and braising--almost as much flavor, but instant, and more, um, fried.  I also used half as much liquid smoke, because it's an ingredient that while magical, can go wrong very quickly if it's overpowering (10/12/09: the liquid smoke controversy emerges).  Speaking of magical but dangerous ingredients, the original recipe called for Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which I do not have.  So, I concocted a bootleg substitute using water, tamari, and nutritional yeast.  Now, as I said in my last post, "nootch" and I don't always get along.  Still, since you're cooking with it, I thought it worked fine in the marinade-that-wasn't-really-a-marinade.  This stuff, while it looked weird when I mixed it together, smelled fantastic while it was cooking off.

 The tahini sauce tasted great, too, although I would use less nootch here--maybe 1 instead of 2 TB.  And, if you're one of those readers who is going to skip this recipe because of the yeast, just omit it!  It will be fine.  I also added some cayenne to the sauce, and used garlic powder rather than real garlic for easy mixing, but more than anything, it needed way, way more lemon to balance all the slightly weird creaminess going on (a recurrent theme in my posts, apparently).  Just keep tasting it and adding more salt and/or lemon as necessary.  I ended up with a bit of extra sauce, and I'm totally okay with this.

 And... I got to use my brand-new universal lid!  Works on my 8-in stainless fry pan AND my 12-in cast-iron.  Hot damn.

The final analysis: a great tug-of-war (or tango?) between the umami and the acidic.  Frying and then braising the tempeh gives it a skin that's chewy, almost crispy--the kind of texture that's often lacking in a vegan diet. 
Braised Tempeh with Lemon Tahini Sauce
(adapted from Cupcake Punk)

For the tempeh:
canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz package tempeh, cut into 16 bite-sized triangles
3/8 c water
2 TB nutritional yeast (optional)
2 TB tamari
2 TB red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
pepper to taste
For the tahini sauce:
3 TB tahini
1-2 TB nutritional yeast
1 TB capers
2-3 TB lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder

1) In a hot frying pan, heat oil and then add tempeh and minced garlic.  Allow to brown (4 min) before turning over and repeating.
2) While tempeh is frying, in a pyrex, combine water, nutritional yeast, tamari, red wine vinegar, and liquid smoke.  When tempeh is cooked on both sides, pour this mixture over the tempeh, reduce heat to medium, and cover partially, cooking 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced.
3) Meanwhile, in another pyrex, combine ingredients for tahini sauce, adding water to get the right consistency.
4) Serve tempeh hot with sauce drizzled over it.  Serves 3-4.

No comments: