Tempuna Melt

by angelika on November 4, 2010

If you aren’t a seasoned vegetarian or an adventurous omnivore I may lose you here. I ask that you just consider, for a moment, that perhaps this food called Tempeh is less mysterious than it looks, and might even surprise you. The texture is nutty and the flavor depends greatly on how you prepare it. Tempeh is a blank canvas which will soak up whatever flavors you mingle with it. The key to an enjoyable tempeh experience is in how you prepare it. Just remember, tempeh always needs a bath before you begin. Hot steam or boiling water tenderizes it, and allows it to soak up your seasoning. 

Tempeh is a very old food, probably dating back to at least the sixteenth century. It originates from Java, the capital of Indonesia, and is closely related to Koji a Chinese fermented soy product. If you have been anywhere near a health food store in the last ten years you may have heard that soy is bad. This proclamation came on the heals of ten years of soy being touted as a wonder food that will cure all ills. So which is right? Both. It is all in the preparation. Raw soy, as in tofu, soymilk, and isolated soy protein, contain a form of protein that is very hard to digest. Raw soy contains a lot of phytoestrogens. It is also high in phytic acid, which makes the nutrients very hard to assimilate. You can read more about he dark side of soy here. For me and my family, we try to avoid raw soy. I do not believe that there are any real benefits to eating it.

Fermented soy, on the other hand, is true medicine. It has been successfully used to treat radiation poisoning. Cultures that consume a lot of fermented soy have a higher life expectancy and lower incidence of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer.  If you are interested in the actual research search “fermented soy + cancer” here. So which foods are fermented soy? Miso, (which not only makes a great soup but also a fantastic seasoning), Tempeh. Shoyu or Tamari, and Natto. Today I am going to show you my vegan “tuna” salad which I call Tempuna.

Tempuna Salad

1 package tempeh
1 stalk celery, finely diced
Vegan Mayo (I use Wildwood garlic Aioli) 
salt and pepper
garlic powder
This recipe is fast, simple and delicious. We love to have this on hand in the fridge for a fast lunch or sandwich to grab and go. You may have noticed that I have no measurements listed. It is really up to you. I use a tablespoon from my flatware set, and add the ratio I like, but you can tweak it to your tastes.  Don’t worry if your tempeh has black stuff on the outside, this is not a sign of rot. Rather it is a sign of a vibrant culture- the good stuff!
cube the tempeh

boil for 10 minutes

Drain the Tempeh and put it into a medium size bowl. Add your finely diced celery. Scallions are also great in this. I add two heaping tablespoons aioli, one tablespoon relish, half a tablespoon dijon mustard. Using a fork squash the tempeh cubes breaking them up. Mix everything together. Add salt and pepper and a dash of garlic powder. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Voila, le Tempuna! 

This will last for a week in the fridge. Eat it on crackers, straight, or in a sandwich. My husband’s favorite way to eat it is on an open-faced melt. I mounded about 1/4 cup Tempuna on each slice, and melted a local cheddar on top. Baked on a sheet pan at 400º for about 15 minutes. I also buttered the side that faced the pan.  We served it with roasted broccoli
A votre santé! 

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