Saturday, July 6, 2013

The General's Tempeh

I created this recipe as I tried to find a recipe I liked for a General Tso Sauce. It morphed into more of a General Tang because of the orange. It is a slightly sweet, tangy sauce with a touch of heat and  nice orange flavor. You can adjust the seasonings to suit your palette. 

This sauce can be used with Tofu, Tempeh or even chicken if you roll that way.  I know it is probably not exactly the General Tso you are used to, which is why I am calling it just the General's Tempeh or maybe it should just be called a pseudo Asian dish I made up. Whatever it is, it is tasty.

Serves 2 generously

Use your favorites. Broccoli is traditional and can stand alone, but I often use onion, broccoli and carrots. I like mixed veg, but use whatever is on hand to equal about 3-4 cups of prepared vegetables. 

  • one julienned carrot (cut into 2"-3" x <1/4" sticks)
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 of a zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/4" slices
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • one head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup or more of green beans, cut into 2" pieces (or whole if small)

Sauce and Tempeh

  • orange peel: carve off the peel in large strips or chunks, cut into 1" lengths
  • fresh orange juice, from one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 T chopped ginger root
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic (or 1/2-1 teaspoon of roasted garlic)
  • 6-10 small dried red chili peppers*, the number will depend on how hot you like things and the kind of chili you are using, 4-5 is a mild version, 8-10 gets hotter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin
  • 4 T rice (or white)vinegar
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T sriracha*
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes*
  • 2-3 T. cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 6 oz thinly sliced tempeh
  • 2-3+ T of (organic) canola or sunflower oil
  • 1T cornstarch mixed with 2T of water
  • 1/2 cup cashews or peanuts, optional, but adds some nice crunch and protein
* vary the amount of these ingredients to control the heat. The amounts I have listed make a medium HOT sauce. If you want a milder sauce, leave out the siracha, and use less red pepper flake.

Mix the sauce ingredients (from Vegetable stock to honey)together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1-2 T of sunflower or canola oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. You may need to add a bit more oil as you cook. Brown the tempeh on all sides until is a deep golden brown. If using Tofu, you can pre-fry it now or stir-fry it before you add it with the vegetables.

Next, in the leftover oil cook the dried chilies until they are quite dark in color. Remove them from the pan and reserve.

Cook the orange peel until it begins to brown around the edges. Remove it from the pan and reserve with the chilies.

Cook the vegetables using your choice of three methods:
1. Easy Blanching method: I cut my broccoli into small florets and put them in a metal bowl. I heat water in my electric kettle and pour the boiling water over the veg. I leave them in the hot water while continuing to sautee some of the other items. This methods parboils the broccoli, but it really cannot get over cooked. This method also works well for green beans. You will drain the veg before adding to the pan at the end of cooking time.

2. If you are inexperienced with stir-frying, sautee/stir fry each ingredient separately until almost done. Reserve each, to be added back into the sauce at the end of cooking.

3. With more experience you can stir-fry the vegetables to the correct doneness by adding each to the pan in succession. Begin with the vegetables that take longer to cook. Finish with those that do not take as long. This last method takes a bit more experience to master.

Just before the vegetables are done, add the reserved sauce, heat until it bubbles, then return the chilies, orange peel, cashews and tempeh to the pan. Stir the cornstarch and water mixture to combine and add to the sauce. When everything is heated through and thickened slightly, sprinkle the cilantro and nuts on top.

Serve over brown rice. Enjoy!

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