19 August 2010

creole tempeh over brown rice (kinda)

Ok, maybe this is cookbook week here on la blog.

Because here we have a recipe from Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook:  Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change The Way You EatIt's a very pretty book, with beautiful photographs and a great layout.  It's also completely vegan, which is neat, though it occasionally calls for fake meat products.  Which don't quite do it for me even though I've been known to partake in such products from time to time.  Plus, if you are going vegan then GO BIG OR GO HOME.  But I'm not vegan, so who am I to say?

The chef also notes that "There are no sprouts in this book, or in my refrigerator.  I don't like them."  Diss.

If I had glanced down at the bottom of the page, I would have seen that the estimated preparation time is two hours.   If I had, I can only hope that the advanced rational thought capabilities that are supposedly characteristic of homo sapiens would have led me instead to make a PB&J, because it had been a long day and I was starving.  But, you know, I didn't see that part so I put on my apron and suffered through.

I made a version of Tempeh Creole Over Brown Rice.  My notes are in green.  I also cut all of these measurements in half, which ended up being enough for two dinners plus two small-ish leftover portions.
  • 8 tbsp shoyu soy sauce (don't know what that is so I used regular soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp low-salt Creole seasoning (probably offensive somehow, but I used a Cajun mix instead)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, slice 1/8" thick (nope)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 pieces kombu seaweed (nope)   
  • 2 packages tempeh
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (white whole-wheat flour)
  • sea salt
  • 4 tbsp canola oil, or more if needed (more if needed)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery (nope)
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped fresh tomatoes (started to cut up cherry tomatoes, which is allwe have, but I gave up and dumped in some store-bought tomato sauce)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (nope)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil (used fresh)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (didn't even see this ingredient listed until now)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ground cayenne (chili powder) 
  • 3 tbsp chopped scallion (had some but forgot to use it!)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley (nope)
  • steamed white or brown rice (brown)
So after you completely bastardize the ingredient list, here's the deal.  I paraphrased some parts.

1.  In a large pot, combine the soy sauce, half of the Creole (Cajun) seasoning, garlic, ginger and kombu with 6 cups water (3 cups if you are halving the recipe) and bring to a boil.  Cut tempeh on the diagonal into 1/4"-thick slices.  Place tempeh in boiling broth, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes (yeah, 45 whole minutes... not for the hungry).  Remove tempeh with slotted spoon, saving the broth.  In a mixing bowl, stir together remaining seasoning and flour.  Dredge each piece of tempeh in the mixture.

2.  Saute the tempeh until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add the onion, bell pepper and celery to the pan.  Cook stirring frequently until veggies are softened.  Add tomatoes (or about 1/4-1/2 cup tomato sauce) and minced garlic.  Cook for 3 minutes.

3.  Add reserved tempeh cooking liquid, bay leaves, herbs and wine.  Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne (chili powder) to taste.  Gently return tempeh to pan, "nestling the slices" in the liquid.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes (30 more freakin' minutes).  Remove bay leaves & serve over brown rice.  Garnish with parsely and scallions.

My picture of it is ugly, really ugly, but guys, this was so delicious.  I've never made such tasty tempeh before (I believe the key is braising it for the 45 minutes).  Even with my many omissions and mess-ups it held its own.  And it was real, straight up, legitimate, run around and use every pot and pan you have cooking.  So, a complete pain in the ass, but worth it.


  1. Are you vegetarian? How did I not ever know this? I don't think you've ever posted a meat recipe, have you?

  2. Haha, nope not quite a vegetarian (see http://unspeakablevisions.blogspot.com/2009/08/i-know-hot-dogs-are-gross-but.html for definite proof), but as I recently told a colleague, I'm a "weak carnivore". Most of the time our meals end up meatless, but just last weekend I had a cheeseburger. So, ya know, that's how it goes.


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