Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Nuggets

Finally - a real recipe! I had these tasty little nuggets for lunch today with some raspberries and leftover green beans. Not the ideal food combination, but each was wonderful in it's own way. Now I'm sure that some of you, despite the punny blog title, still have no clue what tempeh is - and I'll be honest, after describing it, I can already imagine the looks of dismay that will cross your face. But have faith!

In short, tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. You can normally purchase it in the same region of the store you would find tofu. Some have likened it to have a nutty taste, but personally I think it's all its own. Truth be told, the first time I had tempeh, I hated it. But as days passed, I craved the taste and went in for another try, only to be disappointed again. This cycle went on for quite a few recipes until I discovered that it's always delicious fried in lots and lots of oil, but that's a pretty poor way to jazz up a food with such nutritional prowess. So instead, I remained on the constant lookout for ways to impart flavor without the burden of excess fat - and I think this recipe does just that!

Tempeh Nuggets!

I'm sure when you look at the recipe you might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of spices that go into this dish, but thankfully they are all kitchen staples. My recommendation is to make a larger batch of it to keep in an old spice container after you've made it once and know how it suits your palate.

Here's how I made my larger batch, with a few alterations from the original:

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons evaporated cane juice sugar
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

just a portion of the spices involved

I find it unnecessary to simmer the tempeh for a full thirty minutes, a mere ten minutes of steaming or simmering should suffice, but don't skip this step - it cuts out any bitter flavor in the tempeh and plumps it up for pan-frying. I also used about half of the oil called for in the original recipe, to lighten it up a bit.

And great news! If you've read my last post, you know about my recent disappointment with my little cast iron skillet. I am happy to say she has redeemed herself with this recipe :) . Not one delightful nugget stuck to her surface. I couldn't be more proud.


Jerome in the winter

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