Saturday 19 August 2017

Adventures in food: Sweet chilli tempeh

Aoife Barry

You may have heard of tofu, but have you heard of tempeh? A staple in Indonesian diets, it is essentially a brick of fermented soy beans. It doesn't look pretty, but it's a tasty and versatile meat substitute.

If you're a vegetarian or want to cut down on your meat intake, tempeh is a great addition to your weekly menu. You can buy packets of it in the frozen section of Asian food stores and health food shops. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay between €2.50 and €4.50 for a block.

Tempeh can be fried or baked, but before you do either you should steam or boil it. For a meal for two, I chopped 200g of defrosted tempeh in two, put the two sides on top of each other and cut two diagonals into it, making eight triangles. I then cut these triangles in two.

If your tempeh is firm (textures can vary) then it should be easy to cut. I steamed the triangles for 10 minutes.

Why steam tempeh? It opens the 'pores', which means it soaks up marinades easily. It also gets rid of the bitter taste that some tempeh may have. It has a mushroom-like nutty taste, and for this recipe I decided to make my own sweet chilli marinade. If you don't have the ingredients to hand, you could cheat and use store-bought sweet chilli sauce. But it's so easy to make your own.

This turned out to be a wonderfully 'meaty' meal and I served it with heaps of homegrown green vegetables and rice. Next week, I'll be showing you how to make your own crispy tempeh 'hot wings' -- no chickens required!

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