101 Cookbooks: Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh

>> Monday, November 1, 2010

Tempeh is one of those fake meat-y products that I used to enjoy immensely, but sort of forgot about until, well, this weekend. For those of you who aren't familiar, tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans. It's often mixed with grains (like barley) and has a nutty flavor (unlike tofu, which has a somewhat blah flavor unless you really dress it up). It's also good for you because it's high in protein and calcium. (Source)

So, why exactly did I think of tempeh?

101 Cookbooks is continually a source of food and photography inspiration for me. I've been reading the site for years now, but I haven't written about any of the recipes. Now that my training is greatly reduced, I've been FAR more health conscious . . . eating less bread and cheese in favor of other grains and more veggies. So, instead of the usual pizza or huge sandwich Friday night, I opted to hunt around for something fresh. Healthy. Delicious.

Then, I found the Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh recipe, which Heidi explains originally came from Austrailian whole foods chef Jude Blereau. It looked gingery, garlicy, orangey -- vibrant and full of flavor. Incredibly healthy. I had to have it.

As soon as possible.

So we set out and bought all the ingredients for around $15 (a far better deal than going out to eat, I'd say!). And I've been doing this thing lately where I follow recipes exactly. I'm trying my best to learn technique, so if you'd like to make this dish, check out the recipe in full.


I made a few changes, including:
  • Used 1 cup of pulp-free orange juice versus freshly squeezed (much cheaper!)
  • Omitted the "mirin" because we have no idea what it is!***
  • Used ground ROASTED coriander because it sounded more interesting.
  • Omitted the lime.
  • Served it atop a bed of wilted spinach versus wheat berries (there are already grains in the tempeh)
When I read that you should grate the ginger, but then squeeze it over the sauce bowl to extract the juices, I was skeptical. I had never squeezed ginger before. So, I had no idea you COULD squeeze it!

It works very well. Simply squeeze as much juice out as you can and then discard the pulp.

Here's how I cut the tempeh into little triangles:

Heidi mentions you may also use tofu as a substitute. In fact, I can't wait to try it again using tofu. I bet it would soak in ever more of the amazing orange flavor!

BEER BREAK with a long-time favorite: Ithaca Brewery's Cascazilla -- a hoppy red ale. We drank some while the tempeh fried on the stove. I usually flip tofu (seitan, etc., etc.) several times while frying, but just 5 minutes on each side works perfectly for tempeh.

Oh, yes. Cilantro is a must. I gives the dish a pop of extra goodness. I know many of you don't love it . . . so, you can always leave it out. But did you know that coriander IS cilantro. I didn't. I learned only recently (like two years ago). For some reason, there is a pretty big taste difference between the leaves and seeds. So, if you're not big on the sprig, give the spice a try!

My only critique? I was still very hungry upon finishing this meal. It serves between "2 and 4," however, it was quite light for two athletes. Plus: It. Was. Incredible. And I wanted more. Lots of it. So, instead of serving this dish for dinner, I'd recommend making it for lunch.

That recipe, again, can be found in full here on 101 Cookbooks.

Or doubling it, perhaps. NOM! Like I mentioned, we served ours with wilted spinach. Just take a bag of the green goodness (that serves two), and cook in a pot over low heat until limp. No oil needed -- just add in a tablespoon of water or so.

*** Also, later I looked what "mirin" and found out it's a Japanese cooking wine. I'm sure its flavor helps push this meal over the top, but usually when there's only a small amount of an exotic ingredient in a recipe, I omit it.

When getting recipes online and elsewhere, do you tend to tinker and make them your own? Or do you stick strictly to the directions? I'm always a "little-of-this, little-of-that" kind of cooker. But it's been interesting to follow the original writer's instructions! I made another recipe from 101 Cookbooks this weekend: Cashew Curry. Can't wait to share that with you all as well!

Anyway, we'd love to know your chef-style! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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