Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vegetarian Saltado with Tempeh

I love Peruvian food. And I love Tempeh. I know there are many, many people who would agree with the first sentence. And I suspect I’ve lost many of you at the second sentence. I know Tempeh can be a polarizing food; either you love it or you hate it. I imagine the people who can’t stand it have a hard time getting past the deeply bitter aftertaste that is incredibly hard to correct for or cook out of it, no matter how you prepare it. The main flavors in this dish are rich, tart, sweet and salty, so I thought it would be a fabulous combination to bring tempeh’s satisfying nuttiness to the fore while vastly muting its off putting bitterness. The vinegar and soy sauce marinade, crispy fatty fries and sweet peppers complimented the tempeh in exactly the way I had hoped. I did not taste a trace of the bitterness, but it's nuttiness shone through.

Saltado is a stir fry typically made with beef and served with french fries. The sauce is made with vinegar and soy sauce, as well as a pinch of a pepper used widely in Peruvian food, Ají Amarillo. It is a stir fry from Peru in the Chifa tradition, a culinary tradition which merges Cantonese cuisine with traditional Peruvian dishes. Chifa originated in Peru with a growing number of Chinese immigrants from the southern China province of Guangdong around the turn of the 20th century. It is a popular enough culinary tradition that Chifa restaurants can be found in many parts of Peru.

This dish is a flavorful, fantastic option for meatless Mondays. As well it is a perfect thing to serve to impress a vegan or vegetarian guest.


I used store bought frozen french fries, which you can choose to bake or deep fry I chose to deep fry it to bring the fat content to a satisfying level. If you bake them toss them in plenty of olive oil, since the fatty fries really complete this dish (the vinegar marinade cuts through that richness just perfectly).

If tempeh is still not your thing, fear not. I'll be posting a traditional version here sometime in October

Tempeh Saltado

1 lb tempeh, cut into 1/4" slices
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 small roma tomatoes, ribs and seeds removed and sliced into strips lengthwise
2 large russet potatoes, cut into fries*
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon Ají Amarillo pepper paste (or hot sauce of choice)
Fresh Black Pepper, to taste
To make marinade, whisk together vinegar, Ají paste, soy sauce, oils, sesame seeds, garlic and season with pepper. Lay tempeh, onions and peppers into a wide bowl. Pour marinade over tempeh and veggies and toss gently to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. Meanwhile deep fry potatoes, or bake them according to package directions; whichever you prefer. (If you bake them toss them in plenty of olive oil, since the fat on the fries is what really makes this dish as the vinegar marinade cuts through that richness just perfectly). Set potatoes aside on a paper towel lined plate. Heat a wok or large saucepan to medium high and toss in tempeh, veggies, tomatoes and marinade. Saute, stirring frequently, until onions are cooked through and peppers have softened. Serve over rice and topped with a handful of french fried potatoes.
*I used 1/2 bag trader joes handsome cut fries from the freezer section