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Sweet and Spicy Tempeh

Posted Jul 28 2008 8:14pm


Afterthe HHand I had been dating for about four months and he’d already passed the “willing to tolerate my multiple quirks and neuroses” test, I decided it would be acceptable for him to finally meet my family and old friends in Montreal.  Icajoledcoercedbeggedinvited him to join me one weekend as I headed east.  We arranged to stay atthe CFO’splace, to visit with the rest of the family, to attend a dinner party at my friendBabe’s, and to spend the remainder of our time sight-seeing; the plans were all set.

And then, during the drive across the highway, the HH contracted some bizarre, sci-fi worthy flu virus and ended up spending the entire visit in bed–febrile, congested, inflamed and sullying tissue after tissue with unsavory bodily fluids.  My relatives encountered a slightly dazed, highly medicated, Rudolph-nosed guy who didn’t make the greatest impression (he’s made up for it since). 

Ever since that sniffling début, it’s become somewhat of a running gag in our house:  whenever the HH and I travel to Montreal, one of us is inevitably sick (most recently, it was my turn; I suffered a wicked sinus headache for the first day, but recuperated by the second).  The only time we both felt fine, turned out the CFO was the one with a terrible cold, which she unwittingly passed on as a parting gift to me. Two days after returning to Toronto, I was felled once again. 

It may be a cliché to say that men are babies when it comes to having colds, that they whine and complain and moan, even as a woman suffering the same symptoms would simply drag herself from bed and get on with it. Well, not my HH.  As in most things, he and I are total opposites when it comes to illness:  if the HH gets sick, he retreats to bed, lies inert for about 48 hours, then emerges, likeRipley out of a stasis chamber, exactly as he was before.  (The first time this occurred, I was truly alarmed: I was certain the guy had croaked on me, as he literally slept for two days without even getting up to eat or drink).  I, on the other hand, am more likely stricken with a chronic, pervasive, low-grade, not-quite-debilitating-but-definitely-quite-annoying set of symptoms that lasts anywhere from four days to two months. I can function, but I’m miserable while I’m doing it.

One weekend a few weeks ago,Chaserhad her first encounter with the HH’s unique form of healing.  After he crawled into bed, I closed the door, as usual, so Dad could sleep it off.The Girlswere entirely thrown off their regular routine. They moped about outside the bedroom, looking rather–well, hang-dog.

Finally, around 5:00 PM, the door swung open and there he was–andvertical!  The Girls were ecstatic (”Does this mean we get to go to the trail now??”). Even as hope faded when the HH plunked himself in front of the TV, a dull patina of illness still coating his visage and a network of sheet-wrinkles, like tributaries on a map, spread across his face, those Girls still stuck by their Dad. 

I headed to the kitchen to whip up something hearty for the HH’s first meal back in civilization. Before I could even grab a spatula, however, there were The Girls at my feet, staring patiently.  Ah, yes, I’d forgotten that 5:00 PM is dog dinnertime. (”Right, Mum.  Food trumps sick owner. Sorry Dad, but you’re on your own.”)

As to the humans’ dinner, I decided on tempeh, a food I love but don’t eat often enough. Pairing a vague notion of BBQ season with a half-consumed jar of apple butter, I had my starting point. I realize there’s a plethora of BBQ recipes out there around this time of year, from the archetypalWingzat Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalktothese recent loveliesatHappy Herbivoreand anotherfairly recent versionatVegan Dad.  But I was determined to use that apple butter, so I just grabbed a few other items from the fridge and began to mix.  

The results were, after all, very pleasing.  The tempeh’s meaty texture works well with the slightly spicy, slightly sweet flavors of the sauce. If you like BBQ sauce with a kick, you’ll enjoy this dish.  Unfortunately for the HH, he missed out on that particular gustatory pleasure, as his nose was still too congested for him to really appreciate the taste.  Still, the high protein content of the tempeh worked well to help rebuild his stamina, and he was back to work the following day. 

But I think we’ll hold off on any more trips to Montreal–for a little while, at least.

Because of tempeh provides such a healthy source of protein, I’m submitting this to Sangeeth atArt of Cooking Indian Foodfor herEat Healthy–Protein Rich event.

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Tempeh

These are slightly sweet, slightly gooey with a spicy kick.  I assume they’d be even better if actually cooked on a grill, but this baked version was equally tasty.

1 package (about 3/4 pound or 350 g.) tempeh, pre-steamed or ready to cook, cut into triangles

1/4 cup unsweetened apple butter

1/2 onion, grated very fine or pureed

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

4-6 drops Tabasco, or to taste

1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients except tempeh and blend well.  You’ll have a a fairly thick sauce.  Pour about half the sauce into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch square greased pan.  Place tempeh triangles on the sauce to fit.  Spoon rest of sauce over top. Marinate at least one hour, turning tempeh over once.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).  Bake the tempeh about 20 minutes, flip the triangles over and coat with as much sauce as you can (anything you don’t scoop up now will dry to the pan–beware!).  You can leave a fairly thick layer of sauce on top of each triangle.  Bake 20-30 more minutes, until the sauce has dried on top and begins to brown in places.  Remove from pan while still hot to avoid sticking.  Makes 2-3 servings.  Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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