Sweet Chilli Tempeh
I’m excited to be back! Our little family have just arrived home from an amazing almost four weeks in Bali and Lombok Indonesia, and I’m feeling thoroughly revived and reinvigorated to dive into the second half of the year. If you’re on Instagram you might have been following some of my pics, but needless to say there was lots of sun, sand, nature, reading, and of course eating involved. One thing I love most about travelling is getting to experience a different culture and their food. I inevitably always arrive home with scribbled notes littered throughout my bags and pockets, teeming with all sorts of recipe ideas and inspiration. Things are of course a bit tidier these days thanks to el iPhone, but the hurricane of foodie excitement is still as strong as ever.
So as I rugged up in sub-zero temperatures this week (ok I exaggerate, but it certainly feels pretty darn cold in Auckland), I’ve been looking through my various lists pondering which recipe to share with you first! This delectable Sweet Chilli Tempeh dish took out the top spot. It ticks all the boxes – quick, easy, minimal ingredients (which you should be able to access fairly easily), and above all… super duper uber delicious. I’m also excited to introduce you to the glory that is tempeh – if you haven’t already tried making a meal with this stuff, jump on board now!
Oh So Tasty Tempeh
Tempeh is a traditional fermented soy food, originating from Indonesia. On travelling around Bali and Lombok, I quickly realised that while this delicious stuff is not so common in Western countries, it is an everyday food for the locals there. I spent quite a bit of time with some organic farmers in the middle of Bali, and they were quick to tell me that their everyday staple diet was all about vegetables, rice and fresh fruit, with lots of tofu and tempeh. Lucky for us it is delicious!
The Indonesians grow soybeans on their numerous rice paddies, one quarter of the year in between three quarters of rice harvests, as soy beans have the remarkable ability to give nitrogen back into the soil that’s been absorbed by the rice. Because of this crop rotating, the locals don’t have to add any fertilisers to their soil, and so both food crops work synergistically with each other to be naturally organic. Brilliant huh!
Once the soy beans are harvested, they’re cooked, then pressed into a container with a plant-based culture which over only a couple of days, forms a nutty delicious tasting block of tempeh. The Balinese then cut this into slices and fry it in homemade coconut oil (made straight from freshly grated coconut, boiled in water), and then add this to numerous stir fries and curries for their daily meals.
In terms of nutritional stats, tempeh is a brilliant source of cholesterol-free and animal-free protein at 17% (vs a stock standard chicken breast at 20%). It’s also one of the best vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 (between 4 and 15 micrograms per 100g, depending on the make), which is well over the recommended daily intake (RDI) of 2.4mcg. B12 is needed for red blood cell formation and growth, and helps to build immunity. Tempeh is also a good source of iron at 2.1mg per 100g (the RDI for men is 8mg and up to 18mg for women if they are menstruating). Iron is needed to carry the vital oxygen we breathe through our blood and out to our body’s cells.
The other thing I love about tempeh is that it’s a fermented food. In my book, a healthy plant-based whole foods diet should consist of five key food groups and five food types (to keep things nice and simple). Veges, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes and wholegrains being the groups; and raw, soaked, sprouted, fermented and cooked being the types. Don’t get overwhelmed if that’s all too much information for you, but just remember that fermented foods are great for your gut bacteria, and a healthy gut means a healthy immune system and body. Some of my favourite fermented foods include tamari soy sauce, miso, kombucha, sourdough, coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut (or any fermented veges), and of course this nutty and delicious tempeh.
So back onto this recipe. It contains only 9 ingredients (and half of those are garlic, chilli, shallots and coconut nectar), will take you 5 minutes to prepare, and literally 6 minutes flat to cook. It’s the easiest recipe, but tastes seriously amazing. The crispy nuttyness of the tempeh pairs brilliantly with the classic combo of garlic, shallots and chilli, while the leek adds extra flavour, the nectar brings a dash of sweetness, and the tomato helps to soften the whole dish. If you can’t find shallots near you (which sometimes happens here), just use a small brown onion instead. And if you can’t find large red chillis (again, generally not available here), just use a red capsicum.
Yum, enough talking, I’m making myself hungry just writing this. Just go ahead and try making it! The only real prep work you need to do is soak a few cups of brown rice the night before, then rinse and cook for 30 minutes so it’s ready to go with your finished dish (use 2 cups of boiling water for each cup of brown rice). A simple salad on the side, and you’ve got an actual quick mid-week meal, and a fancy Indo-inspired one at that!
So grab yourself some of that tasty tempeh and give this dish a whirl. I’d love to see your creations, so feel free to share them on Instagram. Remember to tag them with @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics, so i can feature you in my next month’s “Be Good Organics in Your Kitchen” album!
I hope you’ve had a wonderful few weeks, it really is lovely to be back writing to you!
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
Sweet Chilli Tempeh
- 250 g tempeh
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large red chilli the large non-spicy ones OR 1/2 a red capsicum
- 1 hot red chilli the small spicy ones
- 1/2 baby leek
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp white or black pepper
- 5 tsp coconut nectar
- 2 tomatoes
- Finely slice all ingredients so you're ready to go once the pan's on. To turn the tempeh into match sticks, slice your block into thin slices, then take a wad of slices and slice on the diagonal (as I've done in the pictures above).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and pan fry the tempeh on high for 3 minutes until golden brown and crispy, then set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and fry the shallots for 1 minute until brown. Add the garlic and chilli (and capsicum if using) and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the leek, salt and pepper and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the coconut nectar and tempeh and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Lastly add the tomato and stir fry for a final 30 seconds. Six minutes and you're done! Don't overcook any of the steps to make sure the dish stays nice and fresh.
- Serve immediately on a bed of fluffy brown rice, drizzled with tamari soy sauce or CocoNot Soy Sauce, with some steamed veges or salad on the side (or a tasty Balinese coconut vegetable dish, which I'm hoping to share with you soon!).
Healing With Wholefoods (Pitchford, P.)