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my first time: tempeh

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Good afternoon!  Quite the delicious lunch I had today.  I decided to try my hand with a new ingredient in recreating a dish that floated into my head last night.

I’ve been wanting to try tempeh for some time now.  While in Hunstville visiting my sister last month, I picked up a package of 5-Grain tempeh by WestSoy at Earthfare.  (Note:  I can’t seem to find the exact product I have on the website; it looks like it’s just soymilks.  Hm.)  It’s been sitting in my fridge, just begging to be cooked.  My conundrum:  how to do it.  I wasn’t sure what it tasted like, so I wasn’t sure what to pair it with.  I looked up some information about what it is and what it tastes like, and here’s what I found:

What it is: Tempeh is a fermented food made with whole soybeans, sometimes combined with grain, fermented into a solid cake. It is a source of vitamin B12 and is often used as a protein source in meals.

Why it’s good for you: Tempeh contains many health-promoting phytochemicals such as soy saponins and isoflavones, which strengthen bones, help to ease menopause symptoms, and reduce risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers.. Tempeh is a complete protein food that contains all the essential amino acids.  It maintains all the fiber of the beans and gains some digestive benefits from the enzymes created during the fermentation process.

What it tastes like: It’s been described as “nutty, meaty, and mushroom-like.”  (That’s what she said.)  Meghann made “tempeh fries” once and compared the texture to chicken.  I used that as my inspiration for today’s lunch.  I’ll call it my “tempehxperiment.”

Last night, I kept thinking about barbecue chicken pizza.  Sweet, smoky barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese, flavorful red onion, and…pineapple.  (Go with it.)  And while I didn’t have any red onion, I did have some leftover pineapple in the fridge, and I thought it’d be delicious with barbecue sauce.  Here’s what I used for my lunch today:

  • Whole-wheat tortilla
  • One half-ounce full-fat cheddar cheese (it’s all we had in the fridge…and it tastes AMAZING.)
  • Pineapple chunks
  • About 1.5 ounces tempeh, cut into chunks
  • Hickory barbecue sauce
  • Honey

I started by pouring some barbecue sauce and a squirt of honey over the tempeh.

Funny story about the honey:  I’d been out for a while, and I decided to pick some up earlier this week while I was in Wal-Mart picking up a prescription.  I compared the prices per ounce of all the different brands, and it turned out, this Winnie-the-Pooh bear honey was cheapest.  Go figure.

You can see my little sage plant attempting to come out and say hello in this picture!

After mixing to combine, I spread the mixture in a nonstick skillet, cooking it around low medium for a few minutes.  I flipped it, and there was this awesome crust thing going on.  The sauce started to reduce into a thick, sweet sludge.

After spreading a little more sauce on the tortilla, I added the tempeh, followed by some pineapple chunks and the grated cheddar.

I let it heat in a separate greased skillet, open-faced, until the cheese took on a greasy sheen, then I folded it over quesadilla style.  There was a bit of a panic when I turned up the burner and forgot about it momentarily, resulting in a, um, blackened version of my intended dish.  Whatevs.  I just turned it over.  Eats the same!

Note to self:  No matter how good something looks, resist the urge to bite right in.  And also, when scraping sauce out of a steaming skillet, also resist the urge to lick the spoon.  I have the burns on my fingers and tongue to remind myself in the future.

I know these pictures are a touch blurry…I’m making do with what I got right now.

The end result of my first tempeh attempt?  Yummy!

Have you ever tried tempeh?  Would you?  How have you/would you cook it?


One response »

  1. oh man, you are brave! i don’t think i’ll ever try tempeh…i like meat and just don’t love meat subs! you sure do make it look amazing though 🙂


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