Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Tempeh Sticks

I've written about tempeh  before. I love it. Sometimes I feel like I could eat it everyday and never tire of it.  These tempeh sticks are a great, fun way to prepare it. They're sort of like a vegan, whole foods version of chicken fingers.  You can even cut them into smaller sizes for tempeh nuggets.

One of my bosses taught me how to make tempeh sticks, which are really so simple and delicious you'll wonder why you never thought of them before. My former boss used a few different ingredients, though,my biggest change is that she used corn meal instead of masa harina. I enjoy the texture of masa harina better than that of cornmeal for this recipe, and I love that this simple change gives you huge boost in the b vitamin niacin, plus calcium and iron, among other nutrients.

Like I said, these remind me of chicken fingers, but I usually make them as a comfort food, with mashed potatoes or millet mash, and greens. They're equally great with agave mustard or gravy.

Tempeh Sticks
by Christina Terriquez

1 package tempeh
soy sauce or tamari
fresh grated ginger or garlic, if desired
masa harina flour
sea salt
seasonings like paprika or garlic powder, if desired
safflower or sunflower oil

Cut tempeh into slices or nuggets as desired. I think they are best when they are sliced 1/4"-1/3" thick.

Steam or blanch the tempeh for at least 15 minutes.

In a heat proof bowl, make your marinade using 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/4 cup water and ginger juice, crushed garlic, or your favorite seasoning and add tempeh. I often skip this step in favor of the lazy person's method: just sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of soy sauce over the steamed tempeh.

Put 1/2 cup masa harina flour in a pie plate or wide bottomed bowl. Season it with salt and your favorite breading seasonings. I usually use paprika and garlic powder.

Dredge each piece of tempeh through the masa and lightly tap to remove excess flour.

Heat oil over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add tempeh and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Always cook tempeh for at least 20 minutes total. I often steam or blanch it to get rid of the bitter/sour flavor, and opens it's pores so it absorbs flavor better, but the cooking time is also important since the soybean use in tempeh production are only partially cooked. If tempeh is not properly prepared, it can be hard to digest and create upset stomach. 

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