Crispy Tempeh With Sesame Spinach

Unlike fake, processed meats, tempeh is an authentic product with a firm place within Japanese culture. A fermented soya bean originally from Indonesia, the biggest selling point is the way it crisps up when fried. You can also fry the spinach leaves in a drop of oil until they wilt, if preferred.
Serves 3
Total Time
50 Minutes
1 x 400g (14oz) block of tempeh
500g (1lb 2oz) of spinach leaves
2 slim spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tsp of finely sliced medium-hot red chilli
1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds
For the dressing
2 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
2 tsp of lemon juice, plus extra for the tempeh
1 tsp of ginger juice (squeeze some fresh ginger in a garlic press to make your own)
½ tsp of caster sugar
Step 1

Place the block of tempeh in a steamer set inside a saucepan with a little boiling water below it. Cover and steam for 30 minutes. The tempeh will be quite crumbly when hot, so, if you have time, transfer it to a plate and leave it to cool, before cutting into thin slices, ½cm–1cm (¼–½in) thick. It can also be steamed well in advance, in which case cover and chill the block once it is cool.

Step 2

Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the spinach, and whisk together a tbsp each of sesame oil and soy sauce with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add the spinach to the pan, bring back to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Drain into a colander and press out as much water as possible using a potato masher, then return it to the saucepan.

Step 3

Fry the tempeh at the same time as cooking the spinach. Heat the remaining tbsp of sesame oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and fry the tempeh slices for about 2 minutes on each side until golden, adding a drop more oil when turned. Drizzle over the remaining soy sauce and fry briefly either side to glaze the strips, then squeeze over a little lemon juice.

Step 4

Pour the dressing over the spinach and toss, then divide between three plates. Serve the tempeh on top of the spinach, scattered with spring onions, chilli and toasted sesame seeds.

Plant Power by Annie Bell is published by Kyle Books. Photography by Con Poulos

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