An April Summer Sizzle Flavor Explosion

It went from winter to summer where I live almost instantly. Yesterday we had our third day of heat and humidity, so I decided to make this summery salad I found at food52. It features tempeh, which I love and haven’t had in a long time, but which the Mister does not love at all. In fact, he hates it. I was hoping that in this dish he would like it. But apparently the texture really is too much and in the future I will try the salad with different things, like tofu or seitan.

So what is tempeh and where does it come from? I knew it was fermented soy cakes, but I never thought about where it came from until a friend at work and I had a conversation about it. A few days after our conversation, NPR’s food blog The Salt did a piece on it.

It turns out it is Indonesian! And the process of making it is quite interesting. My friend and I decided we need to make a field trip to the Tempeh Village on Java. So if anyone has any funding for us to do some hands-on research, we’re waiting! Hahaha!

Anyway, this recipe turned out to be delicious, but I thought the directions could have been clearer. So I’m going to explain what I did, using their recipe as a guideline. Also, I was unable to find mizuna, so I substituted baby arugula.

The first thing I did was set up the tempeh to marinate before I went to work yesterday morning. I measured 2 tbs apple cider, 2 tbs soy sauce (I couldn’t find my tamari in the pantry so I used shoyu), 2 tbs water, some grated ginger (they recommend 1 tsp…I think I had a little less; I was in a hurry), and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil in a flat dish. Then I cut one 8 oz cake of tempeh into strips and put all them in the marinade in a more or less single layer, covered with plastic wrap, and put the dish in the refrigerator.

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When I got home from work, I trimmed a bunch of snow peas (the recipe says 6 oz but I didn’t weigh them, I just eyeballed it…I used about a third of the peas in my container, which was almost 1 lb.). I set a pot of water to boil and while I waited for the water to boil, I began cutting up half a head of red cabbage (approximately 2 cups), cut 2 green onions into thin slices, and chopped up about 1/4 cup of cilantro. I happened to have shredded carrot in my refrigerator so I just added it without measuring it and without grating more. The recipe says to use a cup; I think I used half that, but it seemed fine in proportion to the other vegetables. And then I added half my package of arugula. After the water came to a boil, I added the snow peas to blanch them. I drained them and rinsed them with cool water and then cut them in thirds before adding them to the salad. While I tossed the ingredients together some fell on the floor. My helper cleaned up.

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Then I made the dressing. In a bowl I whisked together 2 tbs white miso, 1 tbs dijon mustard, 4 tbs olive oil, 3 tbs lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves (I cheated and used my garlic press for this), and 1 tbs maple syrup. And then it was time to sear the tempeh.

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I heated some olive oil in a large frying pan and used a spatula to lift the tempeh slices out of the marinade and lay them in a single layer in the hot oil. The tempeh had absorbed most of the marinade, but I drizzled what was left of it into the pan. I flipped the tempeh when I started to smell them and let them fry for a few more minutes. I think I used a little too much oil, so I drained them on some paper towel on a plate before putting the salads together.

I dressed each salad individually. I put some of the vegetables in two bowls, put some tempeh on top, and then spooned dressing over all of that. I was quite generous with the dressing. It was really delicious…so many different flavors coming together–sharp flavors, sweet flavors, a little spiciness–and I loved how crunchy everything was.

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The salad was huge. We each had two helpings and we still have plenty leftover for me to eat for lunch. Although Manny really wanted some, too:

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4 thoughts on “An April Summer Sizzle Flavor Explosion

    • he liked everything except the tempeh. and being the good sport that he is, he ate it anyway and tried cutting the tempeh up really small to mix in with the salad, but that didn’t work either. he just doesn’t like it. so if anyone out there can’t stand the texture of tempeh, you will want to skip the tempeh or choose something to replace it.

  1. I have never eaten tempeh, but based on your first photo, I am with your man on this one. It looks like sliced brain to me! 🙂

    Hi Manny!

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