Archives for: September 2006, 19
I. The Tempeh Trick
My A friend, Tomoko, called yesterday, asking how to prepare Tempeh. As a B, I no longer eat Tempeh, and I haven't prepared it in many, many years. But it's a "beneficial" for A and AB secretors, "neutral" for everyone else, except B's and O non-sec's who should avoid it. I was known in my chef days for my Tempeh-based vegetarian specialties in a gourmet setting, so I do remember a few tricks.
First of all: What is Tempeh? It's a fermented soybean cake with Indonesian origins. It's available in assorted flavors and can be found in the refrigerated case at most health food groceries. It's very difficult to digest, usually, if not sufficiently PRE-cooked. And there's The Secret: Starting with pre-cooked Tempeh.
You can steam or boil it first; I personally prefer, however, to fry or even bake it: These yield interesting/pleasing texture as well as flavor, bearing in mind that this is but the PRE-cooking (preceding a later cooking!). Boiling or steaming in different broths imparts flavors, while different oils for frying can also influence the final flavors if desired. Generally, I fry till crispy, or bake till golden.
My customers went crazy for my "scallopine" presentations of Tempeh, in various Italian-style dishes such as Piccata. Piccata entails sautéing your pre-cooked, and prepared, Tempeh in butter and lemon, with the addition of capers. For my Piccata, I began with White Wave brand Lemon-flavored Tempeh, which I sliced into very thin scallops before frying or baking, and then marinating in white wine (garlic optional). A dusting of flour and glazing in beaten egg, after marinating, authenticates the veal/meat-methodology (to the point of almost tricking the senses at serving time!). Then into the sauté pan, saucing, and there y'are. Other sauces include Puttanesca, Francese, etc.: Go wild. Fall in Love...
Asian-styled dishes should also bring out the best texture and most savory flavors you can muster: I was successful with pre-deep-fried tempeh which I then cooked in sweet-&-sour sauces, or pre-baked and then stewed in coconut/chili curries, or herb-broth-boiled and then BBQ-grilled with tangy marinades. Important: Choose your slicing/shapes for maximal accentuation of the following three keys:
1. Adequate pre-cooking (if steaming/boiling, at least 10 mins. needed. Better: 20-30)
2. Adequate flavor-saturation
3. Good Texture.
Dr. D'Adamo includes a few Tempeh recipes in his book, Cook Right 4 Your Type. Other pertinent inspiration-sources for me way-back-when were:
Mary Estella's Natural Foods Cookbook (1985) and Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981).
Bon Appétit, and Aloha to Tomoko and all you non-B's.
II. Tempi: Camel Rhythms
I simply do not tire of camel talk, and I usually languish for likeminded conversation on the subject, there being no Bedouin campfires in the vicinity. But Sunday (9/17) I indulged in this pastime with other aficionados at the 12th Annual Arab Cultural Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Not only do some of my Arab and part-Arab buddies love camels, but I even met a non-Arab woman, other than myself, who was wearing a Camel charm on a chain around her neck. Another friend has a Belly Dancing school and was acknowledging the camel's gait, and the experience of camel-riding, as the root of Arabesque musical tempi and dance-moves. She also, by the way, does excellent imitations of camel facial expressions: I'm guessing she's B.
Tender grilled Lamb Kabobs and eggplant salad were yummy. And: The Coffee Guy was there, as usual, with his numerous offerings. The line at his booth is usually very long, because each cup is "made one at a time". He uses various spices at customer request and isn't afraid to brew it brutally dark and strong. It's rare to find coffee outside my own kitchen that is as ultra-ultra-dark and rich, while not burnt or bitter. He also knows to use the fattest cream (cow, not camel: Alas), not to mention the ideal alchemical blending technique -- Ah, the desert beckons.
Sidebar: Didja know that the reason Arab/Turkish/Bedouin coffee was originally spiced (cardamom, clove, sometimes coriander seed) was to disguise the flavors of bad mid-desert well water and/or that of the goatskins containing the camel-transported water?
Understand camels and coffee, and you're an honorary Bedouin.
Aleikum wa Salaam.