Friday, April 12, 2013

Tempeh Sloppy Joe Sauce

Before I fixed this dish, I had never cooked with tempeh. I've always been curious about it, ever since I was introduced to it while attending a men's gathering at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia. One of the community's industries is making tempeh and tofu. After eating it there, I filed that information in the back of my head, and it stayed there until I was at MOMs, and lo and behold in the refrigerator case, I spied a package of tempeh that wanted to go home with me.

Tempeh has a firm texture, but little taste. I consulted a few recipes and decided I need to give it a quick marinade before I used it in anything. Tempeh can either be fried, baked, grilled, or roasted. In this recipe, I fry it for the sloppy joe sauce.

4 servings, Duration: Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes.

For the tempeh and marinade:
1 8-oz package tempeh
1 tbsp fish sauce (or soy or worcestershire)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp mirin (optional)
1 tsp sugar

Veggies and sauce:
2 tbsp cooking oil (olive is okay)
1/2 large onion, sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 large olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper (fresh or canned), minced
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 - 2 tbsp soy sauce

Slice the tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes (or coarsely crumble it), and place in a small mixing bowl. Mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, and sugar, and pour over the tempeh. Stir together and set aside.

Turn a stove burner to medium, and heat a medium- or large-sized skillet. Add 1 tbsp of the cooking oil to the skillet, and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, celery, and garlic, and continue frying until the celery is bright green and the mushrooms begin to give up their moisture (about 2 minutes).

Remove the vegetables to a plate or bowl, and set aside. Return the skillet to the burner, and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the tempeh to the skillet. Give the tempeh a quick stir to coat it with the oil, and let it cook for 3 - 4 minutes. With a metal spatula, turn and stir the tempeh until it is browned to your liking.

Add the vegetables to the tempeh in the skillet. Stir in the olives, jalapeno pepper, and taco seasoning. Cook for a minute or so. Turn the burner heat to medium low. Stir in the tomato sauce. Add the sugar, then stir in 1 tbsp of the soy sauce. Add additional soy sauce to taste. When the sauce bubbles, it's ready to eat.

Serve on hamburger buns, rice, or potatoes.

Note: Here are some suggested substitutions and additions:
1 can condensed tomato soup for the tomato sauce and the 2 tsp of sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp (or more) sriracha sauce
2 or 3 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 sweet green or red pepper, chopped

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