I have developed a complex relationship with tempeh. I used to hate it's complex, nutty flavor with a passion. In my vegan co-op house, though, we order it in bulk. The huge squares of it sit in our freezer to be cooked throughout the semester...I dreaded them being actually cooked.
My good friend Lauren changed this forever. She made a broiled tempeh with liquid smoke that was perfectly golden--the smoky flavor complimented the nuttiness of the tempeh perfectly. For Thanksgiving, she made a tempeh loaf that was absolutely delicious. I drove a piece of it home to my non-vegan parents, who also enjoyed it.
This summer I decided to experiment with tempeh, to try out different recipes with it. For all you vegetarians, it is a lovely way to add variety into meals. Just as carnivores often rotate having pork, chicken, and beef, vegetarians can rotate tempeh, tofu, and even seitan! (Another housemate made the most unbelievably scrumptious seitan tacos...she made the seitan from scratch and cooked it in lime beer. Heaven.)
This is one of the recipes I tried out this summer:
Sesame Quinoa topped with Maple-Ginger Bok Choy and Tamari-Glazed Tempeh Strips
The trick to this dish is to time it right. The tempeh needs to marinate for half an hour at the least, then the quinoa is cooked for 15-20 min, and the tempeh for 4-5 min. The boy choy takes ~5 min as well. The tempeh and quinoa recipes hail from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.
For the tempeh:
8 oz tempeh, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick pieces (**tofu can be substituted)
2T rice wine
Place the tempeh in a skillet just large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer. Add the tamari and rice wine and turn the tempeh to coat. Set aside, turning the tempeh occasionally, until well seasoned, about 30 min.
When quinoa is almost done, place pan with tempeh and marinade over medium-high heat. Cook, turning once, until tempeh is golden-brown and marinade has evaporated (around 4 minutes).
For the quinoa:
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbs black sesame seeds
1 c quinoa, rinsed in a fine strainer under cold running water
1 3/4 c water
Heat oils in a medium saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sesame seeds and cook until fragrant (around 30 sec). Add the quinoa and cook, stirring often, until toasted, about 2 min. Add the water and salt (to taste) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
For the bok choy:
(I made this part up, so I have no idea how much of each I used)
baby bok choy
Chop the baby bok choy and separate white stems from leaves. Heat canola oil in pan, and mix up the rest of the marinade to taste. Add the bok choy stems to the pan, along with most of the marinade, and cook until tender and clear. Just before they are done, add the bok choy leaves and the rest of the marinade.
Place quinoa on plate, then top with bok choy and tempeh strips. Add more black sesame seeds for garnish.