The genesis of this menu was that I wanted to build a meal around tempeh, the Indonesian fermented soy food. I decided to honor tradtion and to pair it with peanut sauce as the Indonesians do in Gado Gado, one of the classic dishes of their cuisine. Other influences in the meal are borrowed liberally from China and Southeast Asia, where typically rice plays a leading role.
Braised Tempeh with Long Beans and Peanut Sauce: I cut the tempeh in 3/4-inch cubes, tossed it with canola oil, minced ginger and garlic, soy sauce, mirin and water and poured it onto a baking pan. I baked the tempeh at 400º for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding water if it threatened to go dry. At home you could get a similar result by first shallow-frying the tempeh, draining off the excess oil and then simmering the fried tempeh in a little water, soy sauce and mirin.
The long beans were trimmed at the stem ends, cut into 3-inch lengths, blanched for a few minutes in boiling water, then tossed with a little toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.
For the peanut sauce, I sautéed diced onion, minced garlic and ginger, added vegetable stock and mirin and simmered this about ten minutes. Finally, I added coconut milk, peanut butter, and roasted peanuts ground in a food processor. The sauce was seasoned with salt, some spicy Asian barbecue sauce I had on hand and a squeeze of lime juice.
Curried Vegetables: We did in five stages–1) carrots were cut into chunks and blanched, 2) sweet potatoes and white potatoes were cut in one-inch cubes, tossed with oil, curry powder, garum masala and salt and pepper and roasted in a 400ºF oven about an hour, 3) the cauliflower was trimmed into flowerettes, tossed with oil, curry powder, garum masala, salt, diced onion, diced canned tomatoes and water, then put into a covered oven pan and baked until the cauliflower was tender, 4) the sugar snap peas were trimmed, cut into thirds, and blanched for about ten seconds in boiling water, 5) finally, everything was combined, seasonings adjusted, and the dish garnished with cilantro.
Radish, Cucumber and Romaine Salad: The radishes and cucumbers were thinly sliced, the romaine chopped. The dressing (everything whizzed in a blender) consisted of apple juice concentrate (the sweet), rice vinegar and lemon juice (the tart), ginger, garlic, green onion, salt and pepper (the spicy). All those were whizzed with a little water, then canola oil drizzled in to create a smooth emulsion.
Jasmine Brown Rice was boiled as usual with thinly-sliced green onions as garnish.