Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Introductory Post and Ginger Soy Sauce Tempeh with Kale

Welcome, welcome to my kitchen! First, a little bit about me: I've been cooking since I was little--more than 20 years now! I've written step-by-step entertaining menus for the instructional website instructibles.com. I've competed in cooking contests and more recently auditioned for season 3 of Masterchef (I promise I'll publish the full menu + recipes for my audition dish in a later post).

The other half of my kitchen team, my amazing food photographer, is Josh, my domicile-sharing boyfriend. He is also my taste tester and advice giver; I've come to rely on his sophisticated and talented palate. My cooking has been inspired by the cuisine of many different countries; I like to think I am tasting the world.

If I had any rules I play by in the kitchen, it would come down to one: fresh, locally-sourced ingredients make the best dishes, by far. We eat mostly vegetarian--though there will be meat dishes aplenty on this blog--but when we do eat meat I try to go for livestock that was raised free range, without antibiotics in their feed, and butchered cleanly and humanely. Obviously organic is better, when possible, but to me the importance of well-sourced meat and other ingredients cannot be overstated.

Introductions having been made, on to first post-y goodness!

The holidays season is upon us, bringing with it an abundance of rich foods, both sweet and savory. To alleviate some of my holiday guilt I am trying to make lower cal healthy dishes this week. Lately I've been craving Tempeh and Kale with rice; growing up as I did in Woodstock, it is considered something of a comfort food dish. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Tempeh is a delicious soy protein cake made from soy and other whole grains fermented together. It is nutty, very dense and quite dry, which can make it difficult to work with. In this recipe I use a broth of soy sauce, ginger and water to soften the cubed tempeh and inject it with some extra flavor.

I had some amazing pickled ginger left over from my Masterchef auditions recently and because I was out of fresh ginger, I decided to mince it and use it in place of fresh ginger (I really don't recommend dried powdered ginger, since it loses a lot of its flavor when dehydrated). The ginger is different from sushi ginger, in that it's julienned instead of thinly sliced from the natural shape of the ginger root and used as a condiment in yakisoba dishes; it's also a bit more acidic and saltier, and when made at home it gets a lovely deep red color from the addition of Shiso leaves. I was very happy with the small amount of zing it imparted to the Tempeh in my dish, although I'm sure fresh ginger would be just as fabulous.

I make two cups of rice to go with this recipe. I recommend any long grain brown rice, cooked according to the package directions. You'll want to put that up at the same time as you start the tempeh, since rice takes a minimum of 20 minutes to cook.

Ginger Soy Sauce Tempeh with Kale
Serves 2 - 4

1 1 lb block of tempeh, cut into bite sized cubes
2 - 3 cups of kale, washed and chopped roughly
3/4 Cups water or Mushroom stock (how-to to follow in a later post about kitchen staples) + 1/4 cup water to steam kale
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, regular or low sodium
1 medium, or 2 small onions, julienned
2-3 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a press
1 Teaspoon minced pickled ginger or fresh grated ginger, or more to taste
1/2 Teaspoon of Toasted Sesame Oil
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, 3/4 cups water or stock, sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan on low heat. Toss in tempeh and stir to coat. Bring heat up to a simmer and cover pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring half way through.
2. Add Kale, onions, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil and either a splash of soy sauce (the tempeh will have already absorbed all of the moisture and liquid flavoring) or a small dash of salt and turn heat up to medium. Cover again and cook on medium, stirring every 2 -3 minutes for 15 - 17 minutes, or until kale is cooked to desired tenderness.
3. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!


  1. Yum! I haven't had tempeh in so very long, I will definitely be trying this soon =) For the mushroom I might get some dried porcini mushrooms and add them (and use the mushroom water for the water, of course), yay textures! ^_^

    P.S. Sorry I can't respond to you or share your blog on Facebook! FB seems to think I'm not me (or at least wasn't for a moment) and won't let me post (anything, at all) for 24 hours (or a few days, still not sure which it is). Tomorrow or so, though, my foodie friends shall know your blog! ^_^

  2. Thank you! That's super awesome of you! Also, great suggestion! I was thinking about trying this dish exactly that way when I mentioned mushroom stock. :) The first time I made it I didn't have any dried mushrooms on hand, but I definitely want to try it that way next time!