I came up with this recipe for the Tempeh Cooking Class I hosted a month or so ago. In addition to smoky tempeh bacon slices and sticky maple mustard tempeh cubes, I wanted to showcase one way to use crumbled tempeh.
The first time I ever used tempeh, I made sloppy joes, and I was seriously impressed! I love that tempeh can be used in so many different ways - sandwiches, salads, stir-fry, burgers, breaded, and crumbled, which is probably the easiest. Crumbled tempeh resembles a cooked ground meat, so things like taco filling, sloppy joes, and this lettuce wrap filling becomes incredible easy.
If you're still wondering what tempeh is, it's essentially fermented soybeans. It doesn't have to be just soybeans though, often they will also include grains or seeds, or use different beans altogether. It's not a "fake meat," rather it's a real food that originates from Indonesia. You'll find it in most grocery stores next to the tofu - it comes in rectangular, solid, patty form that's double wrapped in plastic (for fermentation process). Unlike tofu, tempeh is made from whole soybeans, which gives it a higher protein and fiber content. It also has a much different texture - it's often described as nutty, meaty, and firm. Perhaps the best quality of tempeh is that it's fermented, which means that it may provide beneficial bacteria, and is more easily digested.
The best tip I ever learned for cooking with tempeh is to steam it first. When you first take it out of the package, the beans are packed really tight, so steaming it sort of opens it up. This will also help it absorb whatever marinade or flavors you want to cook with. I simple cut the tempeh in half or quarters, place in a pot with a steam basket, and l\t it steam for about 10 minutes.
OKAY - time for the lettuce wrap recipe, don't ya think?!
Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup tamari (or soy sauce, liquid aminos)
4 large medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 medium garlic clove
2-4 TBSP water, more as needed
Blend ingredients in a high speed blender. If you don't have a blender, alternatively you could swap the dates for maple or honey, mince the garlic, and whisk the ingredients in a bowl.
Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
16 oz. tempeh (2 packages)
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup shredded carrot
1 package vermicelli rice noodles
1 head of butter lettuce, cabbage, or romaine
2 green onions, sliced thin
One lime, sliced into 6-8 wedges
Crushed peanuts and sesame seeds, for garnish
Steam tempeh, then crumble and cook tempeh in a hot skillet until it begins to brown. Add onion first, and cook until translucent. Then add carrots and bell pepper, ad saute until cooked.
Add peanut sauce in small amounts until the mixture reaches the ratio you desire. Save the rest of the sauce for topping or dipping.
Layer a lettuce leaf with vermicelli noodles, and then add the tempeh mixture. Top with sauce as desired, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, peanuts, green onion, and a squeeze of lime.
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