Funky Foods: Recipe for Tempeh with Cranberry Sauce

By Melissa Schneider February 9, 2013 No Comments on Funky Foods: Recipe for Tempeh with Cranberry Sauce

Fermented soybean cake, anybody?  Mmm…um….yum?  If you weren’t raised on Indonesian cuisine and you’re not a health food nut, tempeh can look a bit intimidating at first.  Downright scary, actually.  Out of the package, this brick of soybeans is a white-grey fish-belly color, shot through with blue and green veins, and emitting a pungent, earthy aroma to boot.  But don’t be deceived–when you cook it properly, tempeh is both delicious and super healthy.  

If you want to work in a few vegetarian meals per week, need to add soy to your diet, or are seeking a great meat substitute, tempeh is one funky food you shouldn’t overlook.  Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but while tofu extracts only a portion of the bean, tempeh uses the whole soybean, pressing it into a firm rectangular cake.  The result?  A whole food that is higher in protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins than tofu.  For me, tempeh solves my textural complains about tofu too, since it is quite a bit firmer and can get crunchy at the edges when fried.  This delicious recipe for tempeh comes from Myra Kornfield at New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute and is sure to please even the most dubious skeptic.

Tempeh with Cranberry Sauce
Serves 3 to 4
The secret to any recipe for tempeh is twofold:  add fat, and let the pan juices permeate to the center of your tempeh slices.

Ingredients for Tempeh

  •  1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound tempeh, sliced width-wise into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu (or soy sauce)
  • 1 bay leaf

1.  When slicing the tempeh block, tilt your knife at a 45 degree angle to make diagonal slices instead of cutting straight down.   This little trick helps each tempeh slice absorb the pan juices.

2.  Make the cranberry glaze:  combine cranberries, maple syrup, and vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to medium and simmer four to five minutes, until cranberries pop and are very soft.  Remove from the heat and strain the cranberries into a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula to force the most of the pulp through the sieve, leaving the skins and seeds behind.  Be sure to get the pulp clinging to the bottom of the sieve.

3.  Warm the oil in a large skillet.  Add the tempeh and saute on both sides until golden, about 3 minutes per side.  Add the garlic, stock, shoyu, bay leaf, and strained cranberries.  Simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the tempeh is juicy.  Serve with Cranberry Sauce (below), or dip in Captain Spongefoot’s Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce for a spicy kick.


Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar (or evaporated maple sugar.  Consider organic sugar, without bleach or pesticides, for a natural flavor.)
  • juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar

Method:  Add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and salt to a small pot.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Remove the cover and cook until cranberries have popped and softened, five to ten minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme and vinegar.  

Serve this dish over rice and enjoy!

Next post in series:  Funky Foods II:  Nutritious “Forbidden” Black Rice

Photo 1 (cc) by Flickr user FootosVanRobin


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