Last week my friend Catie came over to help me with mundane wedding project tasks, God bless her. While cutting burlap and twisting birdseed into tulle wrappers, we started talking about food. She has been trying to avoid overly processed foods too. We started swapping what ingredients we had been experimenting with. I mentioned that the dinner I had prepared I had made a few days earlier, but with tofu and that it was surprisingly better than that night’s chicken version. I also passed on a tip I had learned from a food blog, but had yet to try- freezing tofu before preparing it as that will give it a more meaty texture. My friend stated that she hadn’t cooked with tofu much but rather had some success with tempeh.”Tempeh!! Oh tell me more!”
Tempeh was an ingredient I had only heard of and didn’t know anything about. My pal explained that Tempeh appealed to her because it was less processed than tofu. Holy crap. Even tofu is ‘processed’. I hadn’t even thought of that. I figured if it was in the hippie section of the grocery it was not processed. And really, it’s not that tofu is all that processed, just more so than tempeh. If my understanding is correct (feel free to correct me in the comments section), tofu is made from soy milk, whereas tempeh skips that step of making soy milk and is pretty much straight up fermented soy beans. Once I got my mitts on some at the local natural foods grocery I discovered that indeed, it is pretty unprocessed. check it. Yes, those grey and black spots are fine and don’t indicate any spoilage.
I found a recipe online and decided I would pair it with some red peppers I had on hand and some quinoa although the inspiration recipe paired it with wheat berries- another ingredient I need to try! (Can I add that to my wedding registry?) The recipe isn’t a marinade as I expected, but rather a glaze. The flavors are kind of a mild version of that Chinese dish, orange chicken, which I loooovvveee but haven’t had in a long time because it’s so processed and sugary. But I wanted to run with that, so I tweaked the recipe to make the flavors a bit stronger. I also sprinkled on some chopped up peanuts for texture and cilantro and red onion for color and to give a stronger flavor.
Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh
Serve with your choice of veggies and/or whole grain. Slightly adapted from 101 cookbooks.
1 cup OJ. If you squeeze your own takes about 3-4 large oranges.
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine. The original recipe calls for mirin, but I didn’t want to buy a jar of something I may never use again.
2 teaspoons molasses (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 small garlic cloves
some olive oil
a lime or lemon if you’ve got it. I cheated and used some of that stuff in the bottle- don’t you judge me.
a handful of fresh cilantro (optional)
package of tempeh. The original recipe remarks you can also use extra-firm tofu, though I haven’t tried it.
Juice your oranges into a small bowl and remove any seeds. I won’t tell if you use reg. OJ.
Grate your ginger into bowl and add the soy sauce (or tamari), white wine (or mirin), and your sweetener of choice (maple syrup or molasses). Set aside. You are not marinating anything.
Cut up your tempeh. I cut mine into small triangles. Fry it in large pan with olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side.
Pour your OJ mix into the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce reduces to a glaze. (I added red peppers to mine at this point and threw in some red onion slivers in the last minute of cooking. You don’t want to really cook red onions or they loose that beautiful color.)You can squeeze some lime on top, sprinkle on some cilantro and peanuts on top for a real ta-da and to make it a little more Thai-like.
Serves 4, or two with one small leftover side dish for lunch if you have a boy to feed.