This is something I’ve been making consistently for over a year now, and each time I make it I think to myself – have I still not shared this one on the blog yet? I’ve thought and talked (to Casey) a lot about this space and where I see it going. And while I know food has been far from the focus for a while now, it’s still something that has remained really important to us. I’d really like to get back to sharing some of our kitchen creations with you!
Now that my weekends are no longer spend puttering in the garden, mowing the grass, and simply sitting out in the sunshine, I’m feeling myself being drawn back into more cooking. My goal going forward is to spend a little chunk of the weekends documenting a recipe for each week, and with Casey’s help I should be able to do that most of the time.
My current focus and enthusiasm is centered around sharing some new Thanksgiving recipes. I did a whole slew of them back in 2011, but the past two years we’ve mainly just cooked those same recipes over and over again. And while they still remain some of my favorite dishes, I’m ready to try something new this year.
This particular dish has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but was something I made for the family last week – and I thought it was long overdue that I share it with you.
When I first dipped my toe into vegetarian cooking (and eating!) I wasn’t a huge fan of tempeh. I found the taste to be somewhat bitter, and no matter how I tried to cook it (sautéed, baked, etc.) it always came out dry and crumbly. And then on a trip to DC two years ago, I had this insane tempeh sandwich at Teaism that was so unbelievably juicy and delicious, and I made a vow that I was going to master tempeh myself. And with this recipe, I feel like I did.
Sesame Ginger Orange Tempeh
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)
2 packages tempeh
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
If you are new to tempeh, don’t be scared of the outward appearance. The pieces often have some dark grey or even black discoloring. This is normal and doesn’t mean it is rotten. It is sold in large slabs, but I found that the key to getting it soft and juicy is cutting it into small bites prior to cooking – that way all the yummy sauce and flavor coats all sites of every bite!
Start by cutting the tempeh into bite-sized cubes. I always make two blocks at a time because there are four of us eating it, and I want there to be leftovers for the next day, but you can always halve the recipe to make just one.
Add the tempeh to a small glass baking dish, and arrange evenly in one layer. Mince the garlic, peel and mince the ginger, and add to a small mixing bowl. Add orange juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, and whisk it all to combine.
Carefully pour the mixture over the tempeh, and set aside for at least an hour to marinate. If possible, leave out on a counter or a kitchen shelf (outside of the refrigerator), as marinating is most effective at room temperature.
Once you are ready to eat, heat a dry non-stick pan or skillet to medium high heat. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove the tempeh from the baking dish, and add to the pan, leaving as much marinade as possible behind in the mixing bowl.
You want to get a bit of color on the dry tempeh before cooking it in the sauce, so cook over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, stirring often, as the cubes get a bit of browning all over.
Once there is enough color, turn the heat down to medium (around 5 on my electric stovetop!) and pour the rest of the sauce into the pan. It will sizzle and bubble due to the heat of the pain – keep stirring to coat all of the tempeh.
Now you just want to slowly let the sauce reduce. This is where you have to watch carefully. You don’t want it to be thin (like it was as a marinade) but you also don’t want it to completely cook away. Stir frequently for a few minutes as the viscosity of the sauce thickens, and remove from heat once it looks more like a sticky syrup – thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without running right off.
Serve immediately, or store for leftovers. I find this is just as good the next day!
I will be honest and tell you that these pictures were sort of thrown together at the last minute. I’d planned to make some sesame broccoli on the side to photograph nicely with the tempeh, but just as I pulled it off the stove Cullen woke up from his nap with a 102 fever! Yikes!
So don’t mind my messy photos, and promise me that if you are new to tempeh – or if you’d sworn it off in the past – you will give this recipe a try. It is one of our weekly favorites, and it’s such a great source of healthy vegetarian protein for the whole family.
Enjoy – and have a great weekend!