Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tempeh with Peanut Satay Sauce

There are times when a sauce makes a dish.  This is one of those times.  This satay sauce hits all the right notes.  It begins with ginger and garlic sautéed in peanut oil.  There's coconut milk for a sweet flavor to balance out the salty peanut butter.  Tamari, red Thai curry paste, and lime juice are at play too.  It's worthy of spoon licking.  What this lead photo doesn't show you is the ridiculous amount of sauce that actually covered my plate.  You're only seeing the photo shoot version.  This delicate drizzle is not an accurate representation of what I consumed after putting down the camera.  I covered every angle, dripping the plate in a heavy flood of peanut satay sauce.  And lucky for you, this recipe will yield plenty of sauce because believe me, you won't want to skimp on it.  Heavy handedness is encouraged.  

Inspiration for this sauce came from a lunch Donny and I recently had on our way to visit friends at their farm (where I rode a horse for the first time!)  Our friend Tricia guided us, and we walked very slowly, but I'm still counting it.  The restaurant we stopped in had a tempeh dish similar to what you see here.  I decided I'd rework it at home, and it turned even better than the restaurant version I remember.  I don't know how authentic it is, but I think it's a home run.  The most important factor in a peanut sauce for me is one that isn't overly thick.  If you've ever had a bad Pad Thai experience, you know what I'm talking about.  No one wants something that sticks to the roof of his or her mouth.  That sort of thing is best reserved for dogs.  While this sauce is thick and rich, it isn't overly so.  The same can be said about the peanut flavor.  It's prominent without being overwhelming.

It's an excellent companion for tempeh.  Although I haven't posted many tempeh recipes before, it did appear in this soup a while back.  I eat tempeh about once a week, but truthfully, haven't been very innovative with it.  I fry it up in olive oil quickly after work and sometimes smear it with Dijon mustard or shake some tamari on it.  Maybe that's why you haven't seen many tempeh recipes around here.  I like it for many reasons; it's easy to prepare and has an ability to round out an otherwise dainty meal with some bulk.  And just like tofu, it's very adaptable to a wide range of flavors and spices, another blank canvas in the vegetarian world.

For those unfamiliar with tempeh, it's made from slightly fermented soybeans.  It's high in protein and contains probiotics, essential to our health and immune function.  While it may be new around these parts, tempeh originated in Indonesia and has been around for hundreds of years.  When you buy tempeh, it comes packed in a firm rectangular shape which can then be cut into small pieces, or crumbled and used as a meat substitute.  Like I mentioned, frying is usually my method of choice.  I like to get a nice crunchy golden exterior on each side.  This version was served with brown rice and steamed broccoli, but any grains and veggies will make a complete meal.  Whatever you serve on the side, it will likely benefit from a few extra scoops of sauce.  It can't hurt.  And go ahead and lick the spoon while you're at it.  I won't tell.

~Tempeh with Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe~

8 ounces tempeh
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Satay Sauce
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup smooth, organic peanut butter
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp red thai curry paste
1 tbsp tamari
juice of 1/2 lime

Cut tempeh into 3/4" pieces.  Add olive oil to a large saute or cast iron pan over medium heat.  Fry tempeh pieces for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden.

While the tempeh is cooking, heat peanut oil over medium heat in a small saute pan.  Saute garlic and ginger for about a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic.  Reduce the heat to low and add in peanut butter and coconut milk, stirring to combine.  Take off the heat.  Add in water to thin out the sauce, continuing to stir until incorporated.  Stir in red thai curry paste, tamari, and lime juice.  Serve sauce warm over tempeh.  Sauce will yield about 3/4 cup.  Serves 2.


Margarita said...

I have this weird eating style for peanut sauce... I love it so much, I practically cover everything on my plate with it. We have another thing in common again! I have only made it once with chicken satay. It was good and I ate more sauce than chicken. Every time I order rice paper rolls at Thai restaurants there's never enough peanut sauce. Never. Thanks for sharing your peanut sauce rece!

CJ - Food Stories said...

I just found your site on so I thought I would stop by and take a peek. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can't wait to see what your next post will be!

Amy said...

Beautiful photos, Stephanie! I love how you shaped that brown cool.

And I love peanut satay sauce. This is almost the exact same way my mom makes it (and how I now make it), except she puts in a tablespoon of honey, too. Haha and you can never have too much peanut sauce! When I made this with chicken for my boyfriend I swear he poured about 3/4 a cup of the sauce on his plate, stating, "I could eat this as soup."

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Boy, does this look good. I think I am actually going to give this a try. I live next to a large city with a highly populated Asian community. My supermarket has the best selection of international foods. I'm sure finding tempah will be no problem.

Clair said...

Loooove peanut sauce. This is just beautiful.

Also love your little rice pyramid!

Eileen said...

Oh yes--I too absolutely cover my plate with as much peanut sauce as possible! Your tempeh and sauce look perfect. :)

Sue/the view from great island said...

Wow, the sauce alone is worth the price of admission---and these are some of your best photos yet!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Margarita-you're right, we do seem to have a lot in common! CJ-welcome! Thanks for joining and happy you found me. The little rice pyramid I made using a martini glass of all things. Looks like I am not the only peanut satay sauce lover! Thanks for the compliment Sue! I try ;)

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

I think you've inspired me to give tempeh a try. I pretty much love anything that I can smother in peanut sauce...

Cathleen said...

Peanut sauce... I've got to say, I have never tried it :( Why? I DON'T KNOW!! This looks delicious, I must look into this.

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

So great - I LOVE the sauce - I've never cooked tempeh - perhaps it's time I started!!
mary x

Epicurea said...

glad i'm not the only one who's never made peanut sauce before, but especially in combination with the coconut milk, it sounds absolutely divine, need to expand my repertoire! and cheers to the fabulous martini glass rice shape!!

ella@lifeologia said...

This looks so good and tempeh is great, but I just can't eat it (being on the anti-candida diet) but I could definitely do this with tofu!
And I love the sauce..... peanut with coconut milk - sounds so tasty!
Thanks for sharing it at the Potluck Party ;)