Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A tempe-ting Curry in a Sandwich
Fermented soybean cakes. Now that doesn't sound very appealing, does it? Too many people, I think, snub the Indonesian delight, tempeh when they discover what it is and how it's made. A shame, really because apart from being very nutritious (it's very protein rich), it's also very tasty -- chewy, nutty, pungent and textured. (You can find out more here). My mother used to cook tempeh as a curry -- with potatoes and tomatoes and coriander. My aunt steams them and mashes them up with boiled potatoes (and seasoning) to make cutlets. My colleague makes a delicious sambal with the tempeh. And they all taste great.
Now, I'd been toying with how I can use tempeh as a sandwich filling for quite a while. As usual, I went online to check out what other cooks have done. Surprisingly, most of the sites with tempeh dishes were western. It's an Indonesian ingredient that's eaten widely in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries but there are but a handful of local blogs/sites that brag about the goodness of tempeh.
Nevermind. I checked out a few of these mat salleh sites. Many of them were vegan/vegetarian food blogs and proved to be very inspiring. It gave me lotsa ideas: using tempeh in a spread or a dip, for example. Pairing it with apples in a salad -- another interesting idea. Tempeh with a spicy peanut sauce ... or in a peanut sauce. Good, no?
Still I could not find one recipe for a tempe sandwich ... well not one that inspired me. I prefer to keep the flavour of the tempeh Asian and so I wasn't quite taken by the idea of a honey or red wine marinade for the tempeh as some recipes suggested. So I decided I would bring the flavour of my mum's curried tempeh onto my sandwich.
First, I marinated my tempeh (cut it into 10cm x 4.5 cm slices) in a thick curry paste (curry powder + cumin + black pepper + salt+ water) for at least 2 hours (turning the slices around to ensure the flavour soaks in evenly).
Beat an egg and spread some breadcrumbs on a shallow plate. Dip the marinated tempeh in the egg and coat it with breadcrumbs. Twice. I flavoured my breadcrumbs with some dried thyme and paprika.
Shallow fry (on low heat) till golden on both sides. Set aside on paper towels to drain access oil.
Fry the remaining egg (used to coat the tempeh) into a thin omelette -- season with salt, pepper and chopped coriander.
Thinly slice a potato (scrub clean but don't remove skin) and shallow fry it till it's cooked and turning golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Optional: Roughly chop up some coriander for garnish.
I usually eat this on Foccacia but was too lazy to bake one so I used store-bought multi grain bread. Very healthy, but of course, not the same as home made bread.
Assembling: Buttered bread, layer of egg, breaded tempeh, potato slices, layer of egg, bread.
Options: Chopped coriander between the potato and egg; herbed tomato relish; caramelised onions -- they all complement the sandwich but aren't necessary. The sandwich is delicious as is.
I brought the sandwich to work a couple of times and received positive feedback. The curry flavour was a hit and the breaded tempeh was appreciated. And, because the tempeh is packed dense with soy beans, an entire sandwich is really filling! You may not want to, but you may need to share the sandwich.