Since both Angela and Audrey are vegetarians, I am always seeking out good sources of vegetable protein, and tempeh is one of the most nutritious choices I have discovered. Unlike tofu, tempeh is a whole soybean product, and the retention of the whole bean gives it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins than tofu. The fermentation process also makes tempeh much easier for the stomach to digest than soy beans.
Since I began shopping in grocery markets here in Johor, I have found that tempeh, which can cost as much as beef or more in the US, is the least expensive source of protein in this part of the world.
In Java where tempeh originated, it’s most often deep fried and then glazed in a sweet spicy sauce. That was how my friend’s Indonesian housekeeper prepared it when I ate at his house. But I browned my tempeh in a non-stick pan instead of deep frying it and glazed it with honey soy sriracha sauce.
Vegetable Stir-fry with Tempeh
Ingredients for the stir fry:
6 heaping cups sliced vegetables
(You can choose your favorite crispy vegetables and slice them into similar size. Select the vegetables that require about the same cooking time. I used carrots, bell peppers, lotus root, runner beans and wood’s ears.)
1/2 cup Thai red onion or shallots
4 cloves garlic, minsed
1 1/2 teaspoon minsed ginger
2 to 4 red chili peppers, depending on how spicy you like the dish, seeded and sliced (omit if you don’t want the dish spicy or don’t seed the peppers if you want extra heat)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
salt to taste
sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Ingredients for the tempeh:
8 oz tempeh, sliced into 1/5 inch x 1 1/2 inch
1 or more tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)
Ingredients for the sauce:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce, or soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar or xylitol
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoon lime juice or rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon 100 pure sesame oil (optional)
Mix all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium high and brown the tempeh. When they are browned, turn stove to low and add soy sauce, honey and sriracha if using. Stir for a minute or two. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a wok on medium high. When the oil is very hot, add garlic, ginger, chili pepper and onion and stir until aromatic. Add the rest of vegetable and stir for about 4 to 5 minutes or until tender crispy. Add a splash of water now and then as you stir, but don’t let it get watery.
When the vegetable is cooked to the desired doneness, turn stove to medium low and add the sauce and stir to coat. Add cooked tempeh and stir to mix. Serve hot.
You can also use other aromatic vegetables such as scallion, cilantro or coriander leaves to give the dish flavor and fragrance.
If your stove fire is not strong and your wok is small, stir fry the vegetables in two batches. Stir fry is always tastier in smaller batches.