Tempty Spicy Nugget Bits

These bits will make your mouth water.

I’ll confess I don’t eat a lot of tempeh — I tend to default to tofu when buying soy protein — but as often happens lately, the voracious hordes of meat-deprived omnivores had cleared out the tofu section at the supermarket. Only the tempeh was left, sitting forlornly by itself in the refrigerated case. I suspect many people are flummoxed about what to do with it. It’s hard, in its initial form, which you have to admit isn’t always a good thing — in this case it makes it not so easy to work with. And let’s face it, it just looks like pebble concrete.

It usually needs to be softened up a bit before you make it harder again, heh. I had in mind to do something marinated for tastiness and crusty for texture, and happened upon this restaurant recipe shared by another blogger. Unfortunately it was wayyyy too fatty (fried in how much oil?) and the marinade seemed lacking in acid and not quite sweet enough. I tinkered with the marinade proportions, adding lemon, and completely altered the prep and cooking process so it could be oven-“fried.” The prep wasn’t appreciably more involved (you just need marinating time), and the result was crusty and delicious, if I do say so myself. You’ll be salivating over these tasty bits!

Serves about 2, but it’s easy to double. The original recipe used 16 ounces.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz pkg tempeh
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 T fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste, they’re pretty hot)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • dash salt
  • twist or two of freshly ground black pepper
  • almond oil or spray for baking

For the prep, steam the tempeh block in a steamer or small amount of water for about 10 minutes, drain, and let cool for a bit. While it’s cooling, prepare the marinade by combining the tamari, water, syrup, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. When the block is cool enough, move it to a cutting board and slice it into a dozen bites or triangles with a sharp knife to keep crumbling to a minimum. Put them in a container that allows them all to sit in one layer and drizzle the marinade over them. Let them marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or more. Turn them over at some point so the opposite side will sufficiently soak up the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and lightly brush (or spray) oil on a sheet of parchment paper placed on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, red pepper flakes, herbs, and seasonings. Coat the tempeh pieces well, one by one, by turning them on all sides in the bowl and place them on the sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the pieces about halfway through.

I served these golden nuggets with biscuits and some lacinato kale I steamed with a sprinkle of salt and the juice from the other half of the lemon I used for the marinade. They can be an entree or an appetizer/finger food. I think they’d probably also go well with some brown rice flavored with the leftover marinade.

Good finger food.

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