I rarely use tempeh. And yet, it has so many health benefits. It’s a probiotic. It’s loaded with protein. It’s a good source of vitamins, like manganese, copper, b2, and magnesium. And it has a ton of fiber. Every time I eat it, I think, “I should eat this more often.” And then, I don’t. This week, I am challenging myself to think of some new tempeh recipes, because it has more to offer than being the “meat” for a tempeh reuben.
When using tempeh, it’s important to steam it first. It helps remove any bitter flavor, and makes it take on flavors more readily. You are welcome to get out your steamer and do it on your stove. Or if you want to be lazy like me, the microwave works totally fine. When it finishes steaming, pat it dry with some paper towels and let it cool off before handling.
Eggplant is also a star of this dish. And, it can also taste a bit bitter. To counter the bitter notes, salt it and let it sit for 30 minutes Once the 30 minutes is up, rinse off the salt with water and use as you normally would.
Adobo is a method for preserving food that originated in Spain. Vinegar and soy sauce not only were used to preserve flavor, but to enhance it. This method of cooking (mostly meats) proliferated across Spanish colonies, including Latin America and the Philippines. This inspired recipe blends different methods from around the globe. I used eggplant, because it’s widely used in the Philippines. I used oregano, because it’s part of the Spanish approach. And then, of course, there was vegan poetic license.
Garlic, onions, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, bay leaves, oregano and crushed red pepper make an unbelievably flavorful, delicious sauce. The tempeh soaks right up and transforms. The eggplant offers a buttery, garlic foil. Together, it’s full-flavored, tangy, and totally delish.
Tempeh Eggplant Adobo
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 cup tempeh, torn into pieces
1 cup chopped onion, divided
3 coarsely chopped garlic cloves, divided
4 Tbsp canola oil, divided
½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce (OR gluten free tamari)
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
½-1 tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
3 chopped scallions, white parts and green parts divided
Brown rice, to serve
1. Place cubed eggplant in a colander, salt generously, and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Place tempeh in microwaveable container and add ½ cup water. Cover with a paper towel, and microwave for 1-2 minutes (depending on how powerful your microwave is). Remove, drain the water, spread tempeh out across a paper towel and pat with another paper towel. Allow to slightly cool.
3. Cover two plates with paper towels. Then, add 2 Tbsp oil, 1 clove of garlic, ½ cup onion and steamed tempeh to a skillet. Over medium-high, brown tempeh to your preference level. I sautéd it about 6 minutes–constantly flipping and stirring a bit with the spatula. Once browned, spoon out the tempeh mixture onto one of the plates lined with paper towels.
4. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and drain off any excess water. In the skillet, add 2 Tbsp oil, 1 clove of garlic, ½ cup onions, and the eggplant. Over medium-low heat, sauté the eggplant for 10-15 minutes. Stir ever few minutes. Once it’s cooked through, spoon out the eggplant mixture onto the other plate lined with paper towels.
5. In the skillet, add soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and the last garlic clove over medium heat. Add the white parts of the scallions. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the tempeh mixture and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant mixture and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Serve over brown rice and top with the green part of the scallions.