Sweet and Spicy Tempeh

Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalks are two items you may not have in your fridge or freezer. Once you've grabbed from your local Asian market - or a well-stocked supermarket or gourmet store - proceed with the recipe. While there are no acceptable substitutes for either, both kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass will keep for a few months if stored in the freezer, tightly sealed.

Tempeh, with its slightly sour and fermented flavor, can be a hard sell to some people, the same  people who inevitably love it at Indonesian restaurants. The simple explanation is that Indonesian cooks generally marinate the tempeh for an hour or so and almost always deep fry it before adding to recipes. At Cafe Drake HRV we find that baking works just as well.

Sweet & Spicy Tempeh with Rice, Salad and Sambal Oelek (a chili paste condiment).

Leftover tempeh with stir-fried veggies, sprout salad and white corn tortillas.

Begin by preparing the tempeh. Cut one standard package into thin rectangles, no thicker than 1/4". In a large zip-lock bag mix the marinade: 1/2 cup coconut water, 1/2 t. turmeric powder, 1 T. soy sauce, 1 t. ground coriander and a splash of rice vinegar. Add the tempeh to the marinade, seal the bag and marinate for one hour at room temperature or as long as overnight refrigerated. Now and then gently shake the bag to ensure all pieces receive soaking time.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the tempeh slices on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer. roast for 15 minutes, flip the pieces and roast another 10 minutes. The tempeh should be nicely browned and dry in texture. Set aside.

Heat 3 T. vegetable oil in skillet; non-stick would be best. Over medium heat fry 1 red onion (thinly sliced), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 small red bell pepper (cut in to very thin slices) and 2-4 hot green or red chilies of choice. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring often, before adding 2 t. grated ginger, 4 kaffir lime leaves (straight from the freezer is fine), 3 T. brown sugar, 2 lemongrass stalks (peeled, bottom 1/3 minced finely) and 1 1/2 T. soy sauce. Stir like crazy to avoid sugar burning and now add 1/3 cup water. Add the reserved, baked tempeh and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for a couple of minutes then cook another 5 minutes, uncovered.

If the pan becomes too dry add small bits of water at a time. Adjust seasoning as desired and serve hot or very warm.


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