Thursday, December 18, 2008

Around the World: Indonesian Yellow Rice and Tempeh

Indonesia: land of tempeh! I absolutely adore tempeh. It's got a nutty, mushroomy flavor and a very impressive nutritional profile. For those who haven't met tempeh yet, tempeh is made from cooking and fermenting whole soybeans until they form solid cakes that can be cut into slices and steamed or fried. It's got more bioavailable protein than tofu or plain cooked soybeans, and the fermentation of tempeh makes it easier to digest. Thank you, Indonesia!

Today I fried my tempeh and then coated it with a glaze made from brown sugar, soy sauce, shallot, and red chile. Sweet and spicy! Next to the tempeh is Indonesian Yellow Rice: rice cooked with turmeric, lemongrass, and coconut milk. This dish is prepared in Indonesia for festivals and sacred occasions. It is often shaped into a cone to represent the sacred mountain Meru. I garnished my cone attempt with a fresh chile cut into a flower blossom.

Beneath the rice is a simple Indonesian vegetable pickle -- carrot, cucumber, and shallots pickled with vinegar, sugar, and salt; very easy, sweet and crispy. And for dessert, two little clementines. Citrus was appropriate, as there are more varieties of citrus fruits in Indonesia than I have ever heard of in my life.

Verdict: The pickles were my favorite part, crunchy and addictive. The tempeh and rice were good together, but I really can't wait to eat all the leftover tempeh on top of a big green salad; that's my favorite way to eat tempeh. 4 stars.

25 comments:

Paulina said...

I love tempeh too, although I find it much less versatile than tofu. Also, not many veg cookbooks list that many tempeh recipes. The rice sounds like something I would love and I have all of the ingredients except for the lemongrass. Overall, you have a great lunch going on there!

Vegan Knitting said...

That is a lot of fruit!

I had tempeh tonight, marinated and then sauteed. The marinade was from Vegan with a Vengeance and is a cross between smoky and BBQ sauce. My husband is a huge fan. He had it as a BLT with oven fries. I had mine plain and made a salad out of the sandwich lettuce and tomato and also some celery.

I never was a fan of tempeh until I had it at Millennium restaurant in San Francisco. Then I realized that I'd just had BAD tempeh and since I've been cooking it myself, I quite enjoy it.

I will definitely try some rice like yours!

aredcardigan said...

I love tempeh.I eat it twice a week. Very yummy and nutritious too.

kbw said...

wonderful vegan lunchbox cookbook! i've been giving out hints for my winter break cooking efforts-holidays...

see also veganomics for many tempeh recipes...also suitable for bento-laptop-lunchboxes....

however, indonesians also eat tofu and other related items as my students have taught me over time. esp with peanut sauces....

Alexis said...

A lovely meal, and in a Mr. Bento!

marie*jolie said...

Merry Christmas! I have loved your blog for ages now, and I am always inspired when I visit.

Paula said...

The pickles sound very good. What is the proportions of the ingredients for the pickling solution?

Sharon Duchesneau said...

I absolutely LOVE your blog!!
What brand/flavor of tempeh do you use?

laci said...

Nice lunchbox today! I love Tempeh too, on a bed of greens with lightly sauteed mushrooms and red peppers and a sprinkle of raisins, along side some crusty whole grain bread. How's little shmoo?is he still home schooled? Do you still make his lunchbox daily? Thanks!

Bianca said...

I had no idea tempeh came from Indonesia. But I love, love, love it. I think it's my favorite faux meat.

Danielle said...

Wow this sounds like an amazing Indonesian meal... I'd love to try to recreate it. Thanks! :)

Sara said...

I have to admit, I am still acquiring a taste for tempeh. It's not that I dislike it, I just don't love the taste as much as some people seem to and, given a choice, I'd rather have tofu. However, I didn't used to like beans, either, and I ate them until they grew on me because I knew how healthy they are. :) This looks like a great recipe to make tempeh taste delicious--I'll be making it this weekend! And clementines are one of my favorite desserts. :)

Anjelina said...

Oh. water came in my mouth. seems you are expert in this field.

Anjelina

[http://www.realbabyguide.com]

DJ Karma said...

I'm new to tempeh, even though I've been cooking vegan for a long time. I think I tried it when I first became vegan, and didn't like the taste- I probably didn't know what to do with it. After reading your description, I think I'll take another stab at it! Thanks!!

Jennifershmoo said...

>>What brand/flavor of tempeh do you use?

I like Turtle Island -- that's the same company that makes Tofurky. I prefer plain tempeh rather than the multi-grain varieties.

I'm not as keen on LightLife's tempeh, but I looove their "Fakin Bacon" smoky tempeh strips.

Robin Trout said...

Your comparison of tempeh and mushrooms is soooo appropriate. In Indonesia, each region has there own varieties, each with it's own mold. One town, I think it was Ciater, near Bandung had a bright orange tempeh that was sliced very thin, and frie into chips. My favorite was from a Jakarta neigbhorhood, until I found out that the water came from a very polluted river nearby (Ciliwung).

Not to worry, in the US all tempeh is cooked before it is sold. All the yummy fermentation flavor is gone.

I do miss tempeh.

On another subject, what do you know about turnip cakes. I had them at a thai resturant in Pad Thai. Oh so good!!

Jennifershmoo said...

I've never tried turnip cakes -- I'll have to look out for them the next time we go out for Thai. :-)

Sandy said...

Jennifer, I'm so glad that I found your blog! I'm new to veganism and am trying to implement a raw food diet...can't wait to try some of the food you have listed here! :-)

WRudin said...

I saw that you are making food from around the world and would like to give you a recipe to try. My grandmother is German, and she always makes me Fruited Cabbage:

1/2 head cabbage shredded
1 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup vinegar
2 medium apples
1 medium onion
vegan butter for sauteing
salt and pepper to taste

Saute finely minced apples and onions together with butter for 10 mins on med. heat. In another pan add rest of the ingredients, place on lid and allow cabbage to wilt. After apples and onions done, place into pan with cabbage and cook until cabbage is tender.

Take the Fruited Cabbage (which will be wonderfully sweet and sour) and place on top of mashed potatoes. I also like to make Tofurky Beer brats and cook them in beer (the alcohol cooks out) for a true German dinner. I hope you try and enjoy!

Jennifershmoo said...

Thanks for the recipe, WRudin! The Fruited Cabbage sounds very yummy. I love cabbage. :-9

Laurel Alanna McBrine said...

Tempeh does have a stronger flavor than tofu, for sure, but I am trying to eat more of it because it is fermented. My favorite way to prepare it is to slice it very thinly, marinate in tamari sauce, garlic and sesame oil and bake in a hot oven (flip halfway through) until it is browned and crispy for a bacon-like flavor and texture. Then you can have it in a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, tomato) sandwich, or on a salad, or whatever - very yummy in small doses!

Adelante4 said...

What a lovely post. I've recently returned from travelling around SE Asia and have experienced a whole load of different cuisines. By far my favourite was Indonesian...there are so many different flavours and it's so diverse, beautiful. Tempeh is a great dish, and you've made a very good go at it there. I particularly like how you did it with yellow rice. I've never thought of eating it on a green salad, but i'll give it a go as it sounds delicious. Thanks for this great post :)

Garden & Patio

Michelle said...

I love tempe!
A lot of Indonesian foods are vegan.

Fera said...

Hi Jennifer,

I'm Fera from Indonesia...God, I love to see you guys love tempe ( without 'H' ) as I do :D... especially, deep fried tempe :D
It is naturally low in fat and high in protein; it has no cholesterol.

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