Tempest with a Side of Tempeh
Last week, Tropical Storm Isaias (so many syllables!) made its way up the eastern seaboard and affected millions of people in its path. And that’s just the beginning – this summer is “shaping up to be one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.” So just in case you didn’t know that climate change is a thing, now you know: climate change is a thing. And what does that make you think of? Yes, that’s right – plant proteins.
Farm animals (particularly cows and sheep) are significant producers of greenhouse gases – not to mention major contributors to deforestation and depletion of fresh water – all of which worsen and accelerate climate change, a major factor in the severity of storms.
The other problem with meat is what a recent study, done over the course of 16 years with almost half a million people, confirmed from many previous studies: people who eat more plant proteins live longer than do those who eat animal proteins, particularly red meat, and especially processed red meat. A particularly interesting – and inspiring – finding was that when people substituted just 3% of their meat protein with plant protein, their risk of mortality decreased by 10%. If you’re reading this blog, then I want you to live a long time. So eat your lentils, beans, soy-based foods, whole grains, and nuts.
During my snooping around to learn more about plant proteins, I discovered that tempeh, a fermented soybean product, has at least twice the protein of most other plant proteins. And the fact that it’s fermented is an added bonus for the health of your intestinal microbiome.
Sounds like the perfect food for me to use in a recipe for this post, right? Well, I was in something of a quandary, since I wasn’t sure I wanted to try tempeh. I’ve always thought of it as a slightly more woo-woo version of tofu, which, try as I might, still reminds me of nothing so much as phlegm. But I decided to give it a go, and – it’s good stuff! It has a nice texture, and it happily soaked up all the flavor of the marinade. No, tempeh probably won’t be the first thing that comes to mind when I request my last meal prior to my execution for some righteous crime (there are so many possibilities), but still…
I based the recipe on one from The Minimalist Baker, and I hope you’ll give it a shot.
Baked Tempeh with Maple Soy Peanut Marinade
- One eight-ounce package of tempeh
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- ¼ cup salted creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp (or more) sriracha
- Cut the tempeh into 1- or 2-inch cubes or triangles.
- Steam the tempeh pieces for ten minutes. If you have a steamer, great. If not, place an inch or so of water in a rimmed skillet or saucepan. Bring it to a boil, add the tempeh pieces, cover, and leave at a low boil for ten minutes.
- In the meantime, whisk the marinade ingredients together in a medium-size bowl.
- Remove the tempeh pieces, pat dry, and toss gently in the marinade.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 24 hours (the longer the marinating time, the more intense the flavor will be). If you remember, toss or stir the tempeh occasionally while it’s marinating.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add tempeh, and reserve any leftover marinade.
- Bake for ten minutes, and remove from the oven.
- Flip the tempeh pieces over, brush with more marinade, and bake for another ten minutes.
- Remove from oven and brush or coat with some of the remaining marinade, if you like.
I used the extra marinade for mixing the tempeh with rice noodles and steamed broccoli. Nest time, I think I’ll top the whole thing with chopped peanuts. Honestly, it was delicious!
Don’t skip the steaming step. It keeps the tempeh from tasting bitter and also lets the marinade soak in better.