Thursday, March 19, 2009
SAMBAL LADA TEMPEH - CHILLIE TEMPEH
Another vegetarian/vegan dish. Absolutely delicious but be prepared for a bit of a bite on your tongue especially if you use bird chillies instead. Tempeh is made from fermented soya beans left somewhat whole and shaped into flat cakes. When bought it feels warm due to the fermentation process. Sliced into strips, seasoned with salt and fried until golden brown it makes a thoroughly scrumptious and healthy snack except for the fact that it is fried of course. But then you could always use olive oil or grape seed oil to clear your conscience.
The white on the right is how the tempeh looks before being fried and those on the left have been fried.
The chillies in this dish are pounded with the onions and when fried in a little oil until slightly caramelized a lovely sweetness emanates which is then tempered with the sourness of tamarind juice. After some stir frying it results in a balance of a gentle sweetness coupled with a subtle sourness that, however, may or may not be overwhelmed completely by the spicy and fiery heat of the chillies that you use.
The choice is yours. Either remove the seeds and use the less spicy large red chillies or live dangerously and use a handful of bird chillies or go for half and half.
280 gm tempeh, sliced and fried until golden brown
About 4- 5 large red chillies or a mixture of red and green
4 -5 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp tamarind paste mixed with 1/4 cup water, juice extracted
A handful of small cherry tomatoes
3-4 tbsp cooking oil
Chop up the chillies and slice the shallots. Pound in a pestle and mortar the chillies, onions and garlic until it becomes a course paste. It does not need to be pounded finely.
Heat oil in pan and stir fry the pounded paste until fragrant and slightly caramelized. Add the tamarind juice, salt and the cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft and somewhat squashed. Throw in the fried tempeh slices and stir to combine well. Taste for salt. At this point you may add a pinch of sugar if you like. I like. But if my mother knew she certainly wouldn't.
In my opinion (since I have one) a pinch of sugar in savory dishes like a pinch of salt in sweet cakes brings out the flavour and adds that little extra flavour to a savoury dish and sweet one.