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The Vegetarian

Tempeh Is a Nutritious Stand-In

January 14, 1988|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

I'm one of those fortunate food fanatics whose New Year's resolutions have nothing to do with dieting. Instead, I've resolved to try new things, including some that I'd rejected as insufferably vegetarian.

Tempeh, for example, a meat-like soy food that, like plain tofu, has lots of protein, little fat and the gastronomic appeal of a petroleum product. You can find tempeh sold smoked and spiced, as ersatz ham and hot dogs; and although the texture of such imitation meat is convincing enough, a telltale aftertaste says synthetic.

If you're not a stickler for precise facsimiles, though, tempeh makes a satisfying stand-in for strip steak in stroganoff and a nourishing filler in this quick, mild, avocado curry.

CURRIED AVOCADOS WITH TEMPEH

1 small white onion, minced

Butter

8-ounces tempeh, cubed

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoons curry powder

2 cups milk

2 avocados, sliced

Fresh cilantro, minced

Cooked rice

Saute onion in 3 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan until translucent. Add tempeh and saute until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove tempeh to plate.

If butter has been absorbed, melt additional 2 tablespoons in saucepan. Add flour and curry powder. Cook to smooth paste, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Slowly add milk, continuing to stir until sauce is smooth and thick, about 8 minutes.

Add tempeh and avocados. Stir until heated through, but do not boil. Season to taste with cilantro and serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

TEMPEH STROGANOFF

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, crushed and minced

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

8 ounces tempeh, sliced in strips

8 ounces fresh soft tofu

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon dill weed, crumbled or 2 teaspoons fresh dill weed

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Freshly ground black pepper

Minced parsley

Egg noodles or rice

Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and tempeh. Saute until mushrooms have given up some liquid and are cooked through. Remove from heat.

Blend tofu with soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, dill weed and water. Pour into skillet and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Stir several large spoonfuls tofu mixture into yogurt, 1 spoonful at time, until yogurt is warmed. Stir yogurt into stroganoff. Season to taste with pepper and sprinkle with parsley. Serve over egg noodles or rice. Makes 4 servings.

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