Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fabulous Fermentation Week - tempeh with greens, goats cheese and fresh strawberries

Things just got really exciting! Two of my food blogging guru's (they don't know it, but I've been geek-ing out on their recipes and blogs for a while now!) - Sarah Britton (My New Roots) and Elenore Bendel Zahn (Earthsprout) - banded together to spread the goodness of fermented foods and created the wonderfully delicious "Fabulous Fermentation Week". The pair devoted this week to posting yummy and interesting fermented food recipes and invited a load of other bloggers to do the same. I very quickly jumped at the chance to get involved and add my own fermented-food-inspired dish.
Both Sarah and Elenore got right down to it and shared with their readers just how easy it is to ferment your own food. I was especially excited to see Sarah's Kimchi post - after returning to New Zealand from my year in Korea, I have been craving and seriously missing my daily dose of Kimchi, but thanks to Sarah I've learnt just how easy it is to make it yourself at home! And taking a look at Elenore's Sauerkraut... well I've never seen purple cabbage look quite so delicious! Sarah and Elenore's do-it-yourself Fabulous Fermentation Week efforts are such a treat to read and learn from. Make sure you check them out.

Rather than attempting the fermentation process myself, I've decided to share a dish that has a fermented food as its star ingredient - my Fabulous Fermentation Week contribution is a fresh throw together bowl of tempeh with greens, goats cheese and strawberries. 

Tempeh (as pictured above) is indeed made from soy beans and there is no doubt a lot to talk about when it comes to soy products and where you stand with regards the soy-controversy. I personally am not a fan of many soy foods because they are usually heavily processed, genetically modified and mass grown and contain a load of toxins we should stare clear of. 

As many of you may already know, Chinese cultures have been eating soy beans for years. But it is their well mastered technique of fermenting the bean to rid it of toxins, unlock its nutrients and increase our ability to digest it that much of the western world has managed to forget, or rather, ignore. Although I've skimmed over it a little now, it is not my purpose in this post to educate you on the truths behind soy - I am still learning myself, but there is information out there that I encourage you to read so that you can come to your own conclusions.

Thankfully, there is some light at the end of my soy tunnel. When you eat soy beans that have been fermented and produced in a conscious and organic nature, you are boosting your bod with a serious protein hit. And let's not forget about the whole purpose of this weeks post - fermented foods are packed with bacteria (don't worry - the good stuff) that help our bodies go go go (pop on over to My New Roots or Earthsprout to learn a load more about the abundance of nutrients in fermented foods). 

Tempeh is a soy food that I don't mind dabbling in thanks to the fermentation process. It has strong roots in Indonesian culture and is made with whole soy beans that are fermented in a starter culture (a fungus called rhizopus oligoporus, if you'd like to know). Tempeh has a very strong flavour - nutty, tangy and quite rich. It is an acquired taste for sure, but one that I recommend trying out a few times. It grows on you. Luckily, there are tempeh producers out there who are going about getting it in our stores ethically. Check out a health food store and you're bound to find some in the refrigerated section. Many manufacturers add in other grains which you might like to look out for and avoid. Just have a good read over of the pack! 

I've packed a load of greens into this bowl. Namely rocket (or arugula) to add a spicy crunch that I find helps balance the deep earthy-ness of the tempeh. I've combined fresh raw greens (mainly rocket, but feel free to top it up with kale or lettuce greens etc) with some sautéed silver beet, zucchinis and leeks and then just heated through the tempeh. I like this combination as it adds more guts to the dish and makes it enjoyable in the current southern and northern hemisphere climates. To give it a creamy salty finish I've happily crumbled over some goats milk feta and topped it off with some fresh strawberries that give bursts of sweetness to excite your taste buds even more. 

Feel free to skip out the feta if you'd prefer to keep this a dairy free meal!

Fabulous Fermentation Week!

tempeh with greens, goats cheese and fresh strawberries
serves 2

for the pan...
approx 1 Tbls olive oil
bottom 1/3 small leek - thinly sliced
1 small zucchini - cut into small rounds 
150 grams of organic tempeh - cut into small cubes (as seen above)
1-2 Tbls organic wheat free soy sauce or nama shoyu
1 packed cup silver beet - roughly chopped

for the salad bowl...
two decent handfuls of rocket (& your choice of roughly chopped greens) per person

to finish...
100 grams goat's milk feta - crumbled
6-8 strawberries - leafy top removed and roughly quartered 
juice of half a lemon
a few good glugs of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 
rock salt to taste

Chop and prepare the leeks, zucchini and tempeh as outlined above. Heat 1 Tbls of olive oil in a hot pan and then add the sliced leek. Once the leek begins to soften and starts to turn translucent in colour add the zucchini and stir together for about a minute. Next add the tempeh. After 30 seconds or so, poor in the sauce soy and quickly stir through. The pan will steam up nicely. Reduce to a medium heat and continue to cook for another minute or two. Add the silver beet and cover with a lid to encourage it to wilt down. This should take a minute or so, then remove lid and stir together. Turn off element and leave aside to cool a little.

Divide the handfuls of rocket into two salad bowls - one bowl for each person. Prepare the strawberries and set aside. Layer the pan-cooked vegetables over the rocket bowls. Divide the feta and crumble over each dish. Add the strawberries, a light squeeze of lemon juice and a good dashing of olive oil. Lightly toss through. Finish with a little crunch of salt if you'd like, bearing in mind the saltiness of the feta.

I hope you can give this dish a try. Luckily, everyone can take their part in Fabulous Fermentation Week! If you don't have a food blog then just get cooking and try out some fermented foods. Enjoy xx


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