Tempeh is a traditional soy product which originally hails from Indonesia, Java in particular. Unlike tofu, it is made with fermented, whole soybeans, which does not only mean that it’s easier to digest and more nutritious, but also gives it an entirely different texture and flavour. Forget about soft and bland*, tempeh is dense and chewy with an aroma that is pleasantly reminiscent of other fermented foods, such as sourdough bread and brown ale. As this was my first time cooking with it, rather than drowning it in a curry or hiding it in a stir-fry, I wanted the tempeh to be the star of the show. Thinly sliced, marinated, fried and coated in toasted sesame seeds it is perfect with spring onions, juicy sugar snap peas and spicy, zesty rice noodles.
Ingredients (for 2):
200g tempeh (GMO-free)
4 tbsp soy sauce
thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 tsp honey
toasted sesame seeds
150g sugar snap peas
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
grated zest of 1 lime
small drop of sesame oil
1 dried bird’s eye chilli
some extra soy sauce
- start off well in advance (in the afternoon if you have time), by slicing the tempeh and steaming it for 5 to 10 minutes. This is to eliminate the risk of unwanted bacteria and also softens and plumps up the texture of the tempeh, allowing it to absorb the marinade better. I used my pressure cooker to do this, but a normal pan and a steam basket will work equally well.
- make a marinade using 4 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tsp honey, the garlic and the ginger and leave the tempeh slices to marinade for at least two hours.
- steam the sugar snap peas for (no more than!) 2 minutes.
- fry the slices of tempeh in a layer of hot coconut oil. Use tongs to turn them and make sure they’re golden-brown and slightly caramelised on both sides. Coat with toasted sesame seeds.
- Boil the noodles for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with warm water. Add a drop of sesame oil, the grated lime zest, the crumbled dried chilli and a splash of soy sauce.
- Serve with plenty of sliced spring onions on top.
*Okay, let’s not be unfair to tofu. It has very little flavour of its own, but it can also be quite delicious if prepared properly.