I keep a package of tempeh in the freezer so I always have it when I want it. Tempeh is fermented soybeans, and packs plenty of protein. It could be described as nutty and mushroom-like in texture, as well as meat-like, so try this dish on people who say they don’t like tofu. I use Westsoy brand Five Grain Tempeh, and it seems to be easily available, but there are more tempeh choices out there.
Tamari is another fermented soy derivative. Regular soy sauce and tamari can be used just about interchangeably, just know that Japanese tamari is thicker, darker, and richer than its counterpart. Think of it as the kinder, gentler soy sauce. It has a more complex, smooth flavor compared to the overwhelming bite of a salty soy sauce. That is why I call for tamari in my recipes.
I think you will agree that salty tamari–spiked tempeh, barely bitter spinach and toasted sesame oil perform a lovely flavor dance. You can serve this quick dinner with steamed brown rice, particularly when you’ve planned ahead to get the rice going.
Twenty Minute Tamari Tempeh and Spinach
8 ounces tempeh
1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed, washed
2 tablespoons coconut or peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 cups steamed brown rice, optional
Pull the tempeh from the freezer and unwrap the package. Place the tempeh in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the block of tempeh by ¼-inch of so. Season the water with about 2 tablespoons of tamari soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, turning the tempeh after 5 minutes to thaw and flavor both sides.
While the tempeh is in the water, tear the spinach into pieces about the size of a credit card.
Remove the tempeh from the water and cut it into cubes, about 3/4-inch square. In a non-stick skillet, on medium high, heat the oil and add the tempeh. Stir and cook 5 to 10 minutes until the tofu is golden brown on a couple sides of the cubes. Add the spinach to the pan, right on top of the tempeh. Sprinkle with soy sauce, cover, and steam just to wilt the spinach, 4 to 5 minutes. Drizzle the sesame oil on top of the spinach and tempeh. Serve over rice, if desired.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.