My beautiful friend Charlotte is one of my foodie role models. She manages to whip up the most amazing paneers when I need an Indian food fix and is an adventurous eater willing to try new things. She is also one of the few people I know who is as gaga over good health food as I am. We recently met at Palm Greens Restaurant in Palm Springs to try what my friend Bob Greenbaum calls the best food joint in town--and he should know, he eats there practically everyday. The restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall, is a haven for earthy types, yoga bodied folks, and friends out for a slow food lunch. The fare includes hearty brown rice bowls with your choice of seitan, tofu or tempeh and various sauces from curry to peanut. The wraps come in whole wheat tortillas or rice wrappers and are filled with goodness like crunchy greens, julienned carrots and hummus. The spinach nut burger is only one of a variety of tasty sandwiches and the salads are made from scratch filled with nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, and other raw sources of deliciousness. Meals come with a rich miso soup and grainy dipping crackers. Belly contentedness is guaranteed.
I am addicted to the tempeh and peanut sauce wrap-tempeh being my favorite meat substitute. Tempeh is a fermented food made by the controlled fermentation of cooked soybeans with a Rhizopus mold (tempeh starter). The tempeh fermentation by the Rhizopus mold binds the soybeans into a compact white cake, which has been a staple source of protein in Indonesia for several hundred years. Not only is it a great source of protein, but is full of isoflavones and like tofu, becomes a versatile addition to any dish, taking on the flavors of whatever it's merged with. The nutty, almost mushroom like flavor, lends a sense of fullness to the stomach without the fat of meat. Normally tempeh is sliced and fried until the surface is crisp and golden brown or tempeh can be used as ingredient in soups, spreads, salads and sandwiches.
One of my favortie tempeh recipes is below:
Tempeh Kabobs With Peanut Sauce
Total servings: 4
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup tamari
1/4 cup orange juice
250g tempeh, steamed for 20 min
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp sherry
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup yogurt
To make marinade puree orange juice with only half of the honey, coconut, tamari and cayenne pepper in a blender. Cut tempeh into 2 cm cubes and add to marinade. Set aside for 1 hour.
To make the peanut sauce, blend remainder of honey, tamari and cayenne pepper together with the peanut butter, sherry, vinegar, garlic powder and yogurt. Refrigerate.
Thread tempeh cubes onto 4 skewers. Grill tempeh over medium-hot grill 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Brush kebabs with marinade and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Serve the tempeh kebabs immediately with peanut sauce.