I'm a big fan of stews, stir-fries, and other one pot dishes, but lately I've been enjoying a good old-fashioned square meal—protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable—several times a week.
Each time I visit the Belfast Co-op, I pick up a few packages of Lalibela Farm Tempeh, made in Maine from Maine soy beans. Like tofu, tempeh absorbs the flavors of marinades (it's particularly good with barbecue sauce). Tempeh is higher in protein and fiber than tofu, with a substantial nutty texture; I enjoy its slightly sour, fermented flavor, but this can be toned down by boiling the tempeh. Lalibela tempeh is softer and absorbs marinade better than Lightlife, the brand available in most grocery stores here. (Jaime and Andy Berhanu of Lalibela are currently testing several types of non-soy tempeh, including chickpea and navy bean; read about their black bean tempeh here).
Some nights I make my tempeh hot and smoky, and other nights I prefer this rich, mild marinade with warming Asian flavors. Truthfully, there's no need to measure the ingredients—it's more instinct and whimsy than science. Main dishes don't come easier than this; the only trick is planning ahead and placing the tempeh in the marinade at lunchtime, or in the morning before you leave for work. Serve hot with rice and Asian vegetables, and serve the leftovers cold with peanuts, scallions, and sesame noodles.
Sesame Garlic Tempeh8 ounces tempeh
¼ cup tamari (gluten-free if necessary)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup (or other sweetener)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger Bring a small pot of water to boil. Cut tempeh into four triangles (cut a typical rectangular block into squares, then cut each of these squares in half diagonally). Place tempeh in boiling water. Set timer for 10 minutes.
In a container big enough to fit all four tempeh triangles, whisk together tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, garlic, and ginger (a sandwich-sized tupperware works well). When 10 minutes are up, use tongs to remove tempeh from boiling water and place in marinade. Spoon some marinade on top of tempeh slices. Refrigerate 4-8 hours.
Place tempeh in a shallow baking dish and top with a few spoonfuls of marinade.* Broil 10-15 minutes on each side, until tempeh is golden brown and edges begin to blacken.
*Don't throw away the remaining marinade! Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and toss with salad greens or steamed vegetables.