Friday, June 8, 2012

Fried Rice with Marinated Three Grain Tempeh

As it turns out, after 25 years of life, I do in fact actually like tempeh and Brussels sprouts. I have just yet to have them prepared in a way that was palatable. Keep reading for how I made them in a way that tasted good and you might find two more ingredients to add to your grocery list.

I'll start with tempeh

Tempeh is a soy product that is made by a natural culturing and fermentation process of the soybeans, which binds them into a solid form. 

Tempeh has the same nutrients found in soy beans, except it is more digestible as a result of the fermentation process. And because of its high protein content, as well as B12, magnesium, copper, and riboflavin, tempeh is often found taking its place as a meat substitute. 

Despite all these wonderful benefits, I usually find myself opting for the non-tempeh dish at restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I've given it a more than fair chance, and try it with an open mind every few years, but the bitter, overly nutty taste usually leaves me less than satisfied. So when I was walking down the grocery store aisle the other day and found myself putting a package of tempeh in my cart, I felt as though I had a momentary lapse of schizophrenia. I didn't know who this person was, tempeh of all things! But after almost putting it back, I  realized I have never prepared tempeh myself, and felt like it was high time I give it a try. 

After some Googling I found that the bitter taste can be reduced by steaming the tempeh prior to preparing it, a step that most skip. Which explains why I've never liked it at restaurants! With a new found optimism I set off to steam my three grain tempeh. Which I then marinated, sautéed, and added to fried rice. And I tell you, it was delicious! I'm already scheming up all sorts of ways to eat it next time. Barbecued, on a nice fresh salad, in sandwiches, all of course, after it has been steamed.

How I did it: 

Placed sliced tempeh in a saucepan and filled it with water until the tempeh was covered. Brought the liquid to a boil, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. 

After that, I drained the water and placed the tempeh in a nice marinade of soy sauce, ginger powder, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (all amounts were to taste).

I let it marinate for a few hours before sautéing in peanut oil until it started to turn brown. Then I simply added it to the top of a heaping pile of fried rice. 

Now for the Brussels sprouts.

I have found the key here is not steaming. 

I will admit that my only taste of Brussels sprouts had been at my college dining hall, which was not exactly known for its impeccably cooked vegetables. But even so, the broccoli was edible, the cauliflower was too, so since the Brussels sprouts were not, I faulted the sprouts. 

Well, as I found with tempeh, it was all in the preparation (sorry Brussels sprouts for doubting you). Overcooking Brussels sprouts brings out their bitterness and overcooking is easy to do when steaming or boiling. Another way to reduce their bitter flavor is by cutting off the stems and cutting them in half. Some suggestions for preparation I found online were sautéing in oil, roasting on the grill, and roasting in the oven. I chose the sauté and now I'm a newly converted fan. Which is good news for me since Brussels sprouts contain the same anticancer properties as broccoli and other brassicas. And believe me, with all the zero calorie sugar substitutes I consume, I can use all the anticancer foods I can get!

How I did it: 

I washed my sprouts then cut off what little part of the stem was there. (Some of the outer leaves ended up falling off since the stem was what was holding it together, but I just threw the fallen leaves in the pan and it worked out fine.) I then cut them in quarters along the vertical (the opposite of the way you'd cut a grapefruit). 

I heated up a pan of peanut oil until it was very hot, and threw the sprouts in. I added a bit of salt, and kept stirring until the they bagan to brown and were soft enough for a fork to go through the middle easily.

I then just added them to the veggie party that was my fried rice.

Also note that the other day I sautéed Brussels sprout halves with some Tofurkey Italian sausage. Yes that's right, folks I ate Brussels sprouts willingly twice in one week and I'm not sorry.

In summary:

Tempeh is good for you and it's even good tasting when you steam it before preparing it. 

Brussels sprouts are also good for you and are good tasting not steamed.


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