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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tempeh, the I can’t believe it’s not meat; meat!

My advanced coking class (Part 3) in San Marcos recently had there “Iron Chef” night; an evening for students to explore their creativity and to challenge themselves.

The theme was Vegetarian (inspired by Dr. Jenn) and students were given a choice of meat substitutes. The students came up with some amazing inspired creations.

One of the options being tempeh, an item that many students (and people in general) are not familiar with. I am here to help you get familiar with it.

Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, or I should say a log and holds together like a firm veggie burger. Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, and also add spices and extra flavors. When you mix grains and tempeh; you get a great texture and nutty flavor. Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique texture (think a soy bean and mushroom veggie burger, in a good way) and is nothing like tofu.

If you aren't fond of tofu don’t fear the tempeh!

It is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones and a great vegetarian option other than tofu.

My preference is to steam (or boil) tempeh to soften the and remove any possible off flavors before marinating, cooking and serving. To steam, place the full “log” in a steamer for approximately 10 minutes, flipping half way through. Then add to a stir fry (instead of tofu), or crumble into soups or chili.

Because of its firm texture, you need to slice tempeh into small dices or cubes (so as not to overdo it), not more than 3/4 inch thick.

For class we steamed the log of tempeh, coated it in a BBQ spice rub (allowing 15 minutes to rest and absorb flavors), brushed the entire log in oil and grilled till warmed through. Served on a grilled baguette with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. SOOOOO YUMMY!