Here’s a challenge for you.
Find the biggest meat eater you can find. Maybe it’s your father, maybe it’s your coworker, maybe it’s YOU.
Invite them over for dinner and serve them this.
I can’t imagine that any meat eater would complain. This is the meatless main for meat eaters.
Jerk Seasoned Tempeh
Yield: Serves 3-4.
1/4 cup ground allspice
1/4 cup brown sugar
3-5 habanero peppers, seeds removed
3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bunch (6-8) scallions, whites and greens
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons Braggs or soy sauce
8 ounces tempeh
1/4 cup jerk seasoning
1/2 pound green beans
1 bunch kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of soy sauce
Rice, for serving
Mini Food Processor
1) Grind allspice berries or use ground allspice. Roughly chop scallions, garlic, and peeled ginger. Add to a food processor. Add ground allspice, brown sugar, diced habaneros, and other ingredients. Process until it forms a rough paste.
2) Dice tempeh into chunks and coat chunks with about 1/4 cup of the jerk seasoning.
3) Remove tough stems from kale leaves. Chop ends off of green beans and chop them in half. Add green beans to boiling, salted water to blanch. After green beans cook for 60 seconds, add kale and cook for another 15-20 seconds.
4) Drain veggies and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
5) When ready to make the stir fry, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tempeh and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
6) Add veggies to stir-fry and cook for another few minutes tossing regularly to mix flavors. Season with a dash of soy sauce.
7) Serve stir fry immediately over rice.
Jerk seasoning mix adapted from a Group recipe.
A Real Jerk
When you walk through the spice aisle at your grocery store, you will almost always find some rub proclaiming itself as a jerk rub.
This stuff works okay, but it really shouldn’t be called that.
Real Jamaican jerk seasoning is more of a paste than a rub. It has some liquid to it along with really flavorful aromatics, spicy habanero peppers (traditionally Scotch bonnet peppers), and a metric ton of allspice.
I used whole allspice berries and just ground them up, but you can use ground as well. Just make sure it’s really fresh so the flavor pops.
The heat from this paste comes from really hot habanero peppers.
These are the kind of peppers that you want to be careful with… if you cut them barehanded and then touch your eyes or nose or anywhere really, you’ll be in for a long night.
Honestly, you should probably wear gloves when working with them, but I just make sure I wash my hands really well after I cut them.
You’ll want to remove the seeds and then dice them pretty finely.
If I would change one thing about this seasoning when I make it again, I’ll up the pepper count. I used three and it didn’t quite have the heat I wanted. I think I would go with 4-5 next time.
Add everything for the jerk seasoning to a mini food processor and pulse it until it’s a rough paste.
If you don’t have a food processor you could put all the ingredients in a large bowl and just mash them together really well with a fork, but that will take some work.
It’s official that I prefer tempeh to tofu. It’s more substantial, has more protein and fiber, and just plain tastes better in my opinion.
It’s also a lot easier to work with. You don’t have to worry about pressing it or anything.
The hard part about tempeh is finding it. It’s still not very popular so it can be tricky to find. I only know of one store in my town of 100,000 people that sells it.
If you know you like it, you can order it in bulk from a few places online.
Once I chopped up my tempeh, I just mixed it with about 1/4 cup of the jerk seasoning. That was about half of the recipe.
The seasoning keeps for a long time. Just store it in the fridge.
Normally, you would marinate meat in this for a pretty long time, but tempeh isn’t going to really absorb much flavor so just let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
The Other Stuff
Tempeh can be a bit on the pricey side. Eight ounces will set you back $4 probably.
So I like to use other veggies to bulk up the meal a bit.
In this case, I just blanched some green beans and kale in salted boiling water. I tossed in the green beans and let them cook for about 60 seconds, then I tossed in the kale and cooked it for another 20 seconds or so.
This way, both veggies are done at the same time!
Rinse them with cold water when they come out so the cooking stops.
They should still be slightly crunchy.
I also made a batch of really good rice to serve with the tempeh.
You could use any rice for this, but I found a really delicious rice mix that was nutty and wonderful.
Cooking the Tempeh
Typically, jerk style dishes are grilled or smoked.
For tempeh though, I thought a stir-fry would be easiest.
I just tossed a few tablespoons of olive oil in my large skillet (or wok) and once it was hot over medium-heat I added all my tempeh.
After just a few minutes, they were nice and caramelized.
Then I tossed in my blanched veggies along with a small drizzle of soy sauce.
Toss this all together for a minute or two over the heat so the flavors can mingle.
I just love the colors!
Serve this over some sort of rice and you have yourself a heck of a vegetarian meal.
If you’re a vegetarian, enjoy this meal. I think it’ll become a staple in your rotation.
If you’re a meat eater, give it a shot. I think you’ll be very surprised.