Monday, February 04, 2008

Generic Asian Stir-Fry

If you're careful about this one you can pass it off to your friends as one of those pre-medleyed frozen vegetable packages that come with a squeeze tube of General Tamari's Sweet 'n' Sour Sauce Concentrate.

It behooved me to run two blocks to the A. Dong market for chopsticks.

Chop howevermuch tempeh you want to eat into bite-size chunks.  Note: I'm not so much a fan of soy-based meat substitutes. They are difficult to digest and full of phytates, which strip your body of minerals. Furthermore, a creative vegan/vegetarian ought not subsist on a reactionary, defensive diet of styrofoamy meat-shaped substitutions. Highly fermented soy products are altogether different critters, however, which is why I like tempeh and miso and soy sauce (the salt helps, too). They have a little more identity to them, not to mention a long & glorious history -- quite unlike modern-day soy inventions, which exist only to make the meat-free path a wide and easy one for the casually abstemious.  

Actually, there's a soft spot in my heart for tofu still warm from the factory, like I used to get it in Seattle. Warm and fleshly-tender, I'd tuck it under my jacket for the walk back up to the shiny towers of First Hill.

Like I was saying, marinate the tempeh in soy sauce and maybe some extra-strong long-fermented kombucha (or apple cider vinegar), several dabs of miso, three cloves minced crushed garlic, and two tablespoons minced crushed ginger. If you have baby bok choy that looks a little too adolescent for frying whole, peel it apart and rinse. Similarly divide a head or two of broccoli. Maybe you have snow peas, or bean sprouts, or bamboo shoots -- even mushrooms or miniature ears of corn. I don't. Mince a shallot or two and let it sit in some soy sauce.

Heat some oil in two large skillets and fry the tempeh in one till golden (on a medium-low flame). Save the marinade. In the other skillet (or wok), throw in your vegetables in the inverse order of cooking time. Splash with the marinade while they cook, (or wine or water or kombucha), so the veggies steam-fry till a bit wilted but still bright. Splash with the shallot & soy sauce. Splash with toasted sesame oil. Remove the cooked vegetables to the same bowl as the tempeh, put all the marinade in the hot skillet and add several tablespoons brown sugar. Reduce a bit, and add cornstarch paste if you'd like a thicker sauce. Taste for acid/sweet salt/herb balance. Pour over the veggies & tempeh. Eat with rice or by itself, in a pleasingly round little bowl with chopsticks.

Follow-up: My tummy hates tempeh, too. Next: miso.

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