Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Real Happy Family

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and seen something called "Happy Family" on the menu? This usually consists of several different types of meat, like beef, chicken and shrimp, all "happily" married together in one dish. But I got to thinking that this really isn't a happy family at all. It's a dead family. And certainly the animals whose remains are swimming in brown sauce didn't have happy lives. So the other day I set out to create a real happy family - a stir-fry containing a trio of proteins that provide an interesting contrast in flavor and texture, but without all that death.

I didn't write down a recipe but if you've ever made a stir-fry you can try something similar with whatever veggies and sauce you like. I used about 8 oz. each of seitan, marinated tofu and marinated tempeh. The veggies were primarily red bell pepper and carrot because that's what we had on hand, and I also threw in a little frozen broccoli. And the sauce was hoisin, rice vinegar and a few other things I don't remember. What I do remember is that it was an explosion of flavor. So go try your own real happy family.

On a related note I have a question for you tempeh eaters out there. You know who you are. Do you steam your tempeh before cooking with it? I did in this case and I've read that steaming cuts down on the bitterness but often I'm lazy and I don't bother and I don't know if I really notice the difference.

26 comments:

Leigh said...

We boil our tempeh before cooking it to get rid of the bitter taste. Works like a charm!

Jodie said...

I throw mine in a covered casserole dish with either some marinade or water, and microwave it for 2-4 minutes. It's very mellow after that!

Tamara said...

That looks delicious!

I often make a recipe from one of Dreena Burton's cookbooks called something like Chipotle Sweet & Sour something-or-other. It has tempeh, pineapple, bell peppers, and onions in a very yummy sauce. She suggests simmering the tempeh in veggie broth before using it, and I usually do so, but I was in a hurry last time and skipped that step, and yes, I could taste a difference. The overall dish was still yummy, but slightly less so than usual.

Kristen said...

Your tempeh question made the needle go skidding off my mental record. I don't eat tempeh that often, but I've not heard about boiling/steaming for bitterness. I've never experienced distressingly bitter tempeh. I then thought about it and realized that the recipes I usually use call for some boiling/steaming time. Then again, I've never known what people are talking about when they complain about eggplant being bitter, so perhaps I have deficient taste buds?

Justnathan said...

I usually marinate the tempeh for 5-10 minutes but I've never really noticed a bitter taste. The Happy Family looks great!

The Voracious Vegan said...

Such a brilliant idea, I loved this post. The food looks super delicious. If you have any leftovers send them my way!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Sounds delicious!! And definitely happy :-)
And yes, I boil my tempeh in water for about 10-15 minutes. It also seems to soak up marinades better after this, as well as getting rid of the bitter flavor!

jennycestcake said...

I have used tempeh both steamed and unsteamed and I like it much better when steamed. I think it definitely cuts down on the bitterness.

Susan G said...

I have found that boiling does not make much difference, but maybe I didn't boil for long enough.

I thought you might enjoy this post, since I remember you once had something similar on your blog!

http://veganathome.blogspot.com/2008/06/veganizing-ray-ray.html)

(Can't figure out how to insert a link, sorry1)

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

Delicious!

kindkitchen said...

Yum-that looks really great.

I always steam my tempeh for about 10 min before using. I've had it once un-steamed, and I think it does taste bitter.

B36Kitchen said...

What a great idea.

I steam our tempeh for about 10 minutes before I cook it or marinate it. Once in awhile I'll get lazy but I do notice a difference. I believe someone told me that it makes it easier to digest if you steam it. I don't know if that is true or not.

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

I used to eat tempeh as is, but I do agree that it makes the taste more mild and it absorbs marinades better, too, I think. I think people don't eat enough tempeh! My favorite marinade is a lime-pineapple one, and then grill it with some grape tomatoes and zucchini- yummy!

mad about udon said...

Never had tempeh. I know I should, but the fungus thing grosses me out, despite the fact that I'm a scientist--eep. Great recipe and photo!

Animal-Friendly said...

Your dish looks much happier than any meat dish at a Chinese restaurant!

I usually just boil my tempeh instead of steaming it since I'm lazy and I do notice a slight difference, but I usually forget this step and I still find tempeh yummy :)

Bianca said...

I love the idea of combining tofu, tempeh, and seitan in one dish. I love plant proteins...more than veggies. And I know that's bad. But I don't care.

Amy said...

That looks good and satisfying. I only really use tempeh in stirfries and don't steam it first. But I have a steamer sitting idle so I should use it!

Erin said...

I'm a recent tempeh convert so I don't have a lot of experience, but I've liked it better the times I've steamed or boiled it first.

That's a great idea to put all three of the great vegan proteins into one dish! We rarely let them play together.

jessy said...

your stir fry makes me all happyfaced! it looks fresh and tasty, too! we do steam our tempeh - personally, i can't tell the difference - but my spouse swears he can! (i don't know if i believe him though.)
:)

shellyfish said...

Now that *is* a happy family!

Kate said...

I love the happy family idea! I usually simmer my tempeh for ten minutes.

aTxVegn said...

I've never noticed "Happy Family." I loved the intro to your post! At first I thought I would see a new baby picture. Then, since I don't eat soy or wheat, I thought I would 3 kinds of beans! Anyway, whatever winds up in a stirfry is delicious.

Sam said...

Yummy!!! I was never a big fan of tempeh. I'll have to try it again soon.

Joe said...

I'm crazy about tempeh! I usually steam it for five or ten minutes before marinating-- it seems to make a big difference in how much marinade it soaks up.

Erica said...

I'm spoiled and get wonderful multigrain bulk Tempeh from Proper Eats, I don't notice any bittnerness with it like I do with store bought tempeh. It makes me wonder if the bitterness is due somehow to the processing/packaging.

vegan addict said...

I boil my tempeh also. I read that it not only removes the bitterness, but also helps our bodies digest it easier. Who knows?!