Saturday, March 5, 2011

Buffalo Tempeh with Creamy Coleslaw

I have a new favorite favorite favorite favorite cookbook. That's four favorites. It's called Appetite for Reduction and you can go buy it on Amazon right now. Isa Chandra Moskowitz has long been one of my favorite vegan bloggers and her Post Punk Kitchen is both helpful and hilarious. I had the chance to meet her at a cooking demonstration/cookbook signing at the San Francisco Ferry Building a couple of weeks ago and I have cooked nearly exclusively from her new cookbook since that day. This book is creative, healthy and I seriously have loved every recipe I've tried so 25 at least. That's really saying something! I have a back log of a million new meals to blog about, so I'm just going to jump in and begin with one of my favorites, this Buffalo Tempeh. I'm not sure what made me try this one. I've never been a big Buffalo wing person, but I do like spicy food and I don't have too much variety in my repertoire of tempeh recipes so I thought I'd give it a try. I am, however, a big coleslaw person. I love it all from the horribly unhealthy stuff dripping in creamy fatty goodness all the way to light, healthy kale slaw or asian cabbage slaw. When Isa's book promised a delicious and creamy coleslaw that is both vegan AND low fat I had to give it a try right away. I'm going to start with the recipe for the tempeh because it needs to marinate.

If you aren't familiar with tempeh, don't feel bad. It's the much-ignored and less popular cousin of tofu and a lot of people (including my mom and sister) are afraid of it. I challenge you to give it a try sometime if you never have. I'm not sure if it's the name (How to say it? Temp-ay or Temp-uh??) or the strange discoloration sometimes visible on the outside of the block (ignore it, it's just part of the natural fermentation process) or the simple fact that people don't know what to do with it. If you've never seen it, just think about all the little edamame beans that are used when soymilk is made. All the juice is squeezed out of the beans and what is left? Lots of edamame shells. These aren't the big, furry pods, but rather the smaller outer layer of the actual beans. They take these shells, mash them up into a rectangular form and then ferment them, much like they do when making tofu. That is a much simplified explanation I'm sure, but it was enough for me and that's the extent of my tempeh knowledge. The key, I have found, to making delicious tempeh is to cook it in a variety of ways: steam it to make the inside tender and to allow it to open up and soak in flavor and then also pan-fry it to give it a little crispness on the outside and to highlight the nutty flavor. This recipe suggests exactly that, so I guess Isa thinks the same thing!

To make this dish, first cut the block of tempeh in half across the middle, then into 4 pieces and cut each piece into two triangles. Steam the tempeh pieces for 5 minutes, then put them in a shallow baking dish and mix together your marinade:

1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup cayenne hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano

Marinate the tempeh in this mixture for about an hour, flipping the tempeh once. Heat a large skillet and spray it with cooking spray. Add the tempeh slices and cook them for about 10 minutes, flipping often so that each side gets browned nicely. When the tempeh looks good and golden brown, add back in all the leftover marinade and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the liquid is mostly gone. You're ready to go!

The slaw is also a very simple recipe, so pull that together while the tempeh is marinating and your slaw will have time to sit in the dressing while you cook the tempeh and both will be ready to eat at exactly the same time! I made a few changes to her original recipe to make the slaw a little more tangy, the way I like it. First make the dressing:

1/4 cup cashews, preferably soaked in water for an hour or so
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Whiz everything up in a blender for about 5 minutes. If you need to give your blender a break in the middle, that's fine but be sure to blend the entire 5 minutes. This is what it takes to blend the cashews with the other liquids to make a delicious and creamy dressing. Pour the dressing over an entire bag of coleslaw mix (or about 4 cups shredded cabbage and 1 cup shredded carrot). I like to also add a couple chopped green onions, but that's up to you. Mix everything thoroughly and let it sit in the fridge for a while until the flavors all meld.

Both of these dishes taste exactly how you would want them to and really remind me of the original dishes they are based on. The tempeh is the perfect texture and has just the right about of spice and heat. The slaw is creamy and cool but still tangy and crunchy. This was a big hit and I can't wait to make it for a football game or an appetizer for guests. Mostly though, it's the perfect lunch on a lazy Saturday or Sunday. Give it a shot!

Nutrition Facts: Tempeh Serving = 4 pieces or half the recipe. 250 calories; 8.5 g fat (1 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 410 mg sodium; 20.2 g carbohydrate; 12.6 g fiber; 0.8 g sugars; 23 g protein; 19% vitamin A; 10% vitamin C; 16% calcium; 23% iron.

Slaw Serving = 1/3 recipe. 117 calories; 4.9 g fat (0.7 g sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 447 mg sodium; 16.1 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 9.4 g sugars; 4.1 g protein; 82% Vitamin A; 82 % Vitamin C.

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