I’ve long wanted to feature a recipe with tempeh on the blog, so I’ve simply got to say this is surely overdue. The truth is, even as long-term (my whole life) vegetarian (zero meat or fish – ever), the truth is, I’m not really a huge fan of soy. Growing up, tofu was a regular feature on my mom’s vegetarian dinner table, and we kids never passed it up with her deliciously fried medium tofu cubes that tasted amazing cooked up in plenty of soy sauce and then dunked in ketchup to seal the deal. Ah, the good old days. But I digress.
As an adult, I like tofu, but I don’t eat it too too often, as I prefer to eat beans cooked from scratch or foods that are (just a little) less processed. Don’t get me wrong though, it has its place in my kitchen, as it’s always a big hit with kids when fried in yeast and olive oil. One day I mean to feature that cooking method here on the blog but I think I’m getting off topic here just a little. Oy vey.
Tempeh, however, is not tofu, though both are based from soybeans. Tempeh leaves me feeling strong, where tofu can leave me feeling bloated. It could be that tempeh undergoes a different processing method to tofu, as it is fermented where tofu is not. My body responds well to fermented foods of all kinds, and I’ve come to the conclusion through the years that this must be a factor.
I’d love to know from those of you out there who have eaten both tofu & tempeh – anyone out there with a similar take? Regardless, if you are new to vegetarian eating, this could be a fantastic new food to discover, and I can’t think of a more delicious way to enjoy it than this. Yum!
Today’s recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit once again, where in a recent issue they featured a plate of stir-fried brussels sprouts & veggies (their version was not vegetarian) in what sounded like a simple yet dynamite sauce full of flavors I love: ginger & soy & sesame. You just can never go wrong with those, not ever.
I loved this meal and hope you will too. It keeps extremely well and makes for fantastic leftover weeknight meals. Feel free to substitute tofu for the tempeh (or even for you non-veggies you could add whatever protein you like here) if you like or omit the protein portion altogether.
Easy meals like this are what make not eating healthy seem downright silly. Not when food this tasty is so cheap & easy to make, not to mention fast. Really, really fast.
15 Minute Brussels Sprout & Tempeh Stir-Fry:
Adapted from Bon Appetit
(20) brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed & halved
(1#) plain tempeh, cubed
(4) green onions, chopped & divided between greens & whites
(3) garlic cloves (optional – I omitted these)
(2) tbsp grated fresh ginger
(2) medium carrots, peeled & sliced on the diagonal
(1) medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
(1) tbsp cornstarch
(3) tbsp soy sauce
(2) tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
(1/4) cup water
(4) tbsp sesame oil, for the stir-frying
Start by combining the cornstarch, soy sauce, rice vinegar & water in a small bowl with a whisk. Mix and set aside.
As with any stir-fry or curry dish, the most important thing is be prepared with all of the ingredients before cooking. Prepare & cut the brussels and set aside in a separate bowl. Prepare the tempeh and set aside in a separate bowl. Finally, prepare the green onions (setting aside the greens separately in a bowl on their own) and the ginger & optional garlic. Prep the carrots & bell pepper and set them aside together.
When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron frying pan or a wok on high and add 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Once hot, add the brussels sprout halves and cook, tossing here and there to prevent burning, for 4 minutes. Set the brussels sprouts aside in a medium bowl. Give the pan a little wipe with a paper towel and return the pan to the stove.
Heating another tbsp of sesame oil, this time add the cubed tempeh and cook in the oil (you may need to add a little more oil). Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the cubes are golden, starting to brown, and a little (deliciously) crispy.
Set the tempeh aside with the brussels sprouts (you can use the same bowl). Wipe the pan again and return it to the stove.
Next, heat the remaining tbsp of sesame oil, and cook the ginger, green onions & garlic (if using) for one minute, until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Next, add the green onion whites, carrots, & red pepper. Stir frequently and cook for 2 minutes until the colors are bright and they are just softened.
Keeping the heat on, add the cooked sprouts & the tempeh to the pan and mix all of the vegetables well together. To finish, give the bowl of prepared sauce a good stir with the whisk and pour the entire lot over the hot vegetables. Stir well as it thickens from the cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, for a final 2-3 minutes until glossy, hot & gorgeous.
Serve on its own, or with cooked rice, garnished with the sliced green onions. On its own, this meal makes for a rather satisfying plate, though those with appetites for more may wish to include some grains.
As I mentioned earlier, this dish keeps incredibly well in the fridge for days and re-heats so well you may even find you like it better as the week goes by. It’s hearty & filling while still being 100% plant-based. A super powered meal if I ever saw one.