Photo courtesy of The Family Kitchen (but I would assume it was taken by Kathy Patalsky).
So I read Kathy’s blog (Happy. Healthy. Life.) A LOT. She’s funny, and her recipes are usually very clear and easy to follow. This was a recipe she posted on an external site (which I haven’t checked to see if it’s also on her regular blog or not), and honestly, the instructions are not up to her usual standard. Fortunately, as it turns out, it doesn’t matter! The directions read something like, slice up tempeh / tofu, brown in pan, throw in hot sauce and agave, do something with the nooch. In other words, “just make it up as you go.” Now THAT I can do.
I started heating a large skillet with about 1T of oil over medium-high heat. I used two blocks of tempeh, which I sliced into 8 logs each, then sliced each of those in half, so I got 16 “bites” per pack of tempeh. I put all 32 bites into the pan, then added ground sea salt and fresh black pepper. Kathy says to brown on all sides, but tempeh isn’t really flat on the ends, and I was HUNGRY, so I settled for 2 sides. Now let me tell you what NOT to do: Do NOT dump the hot sauce into the pan while still over medium-high heat with your face over the stove. All that hot pepper aerosoled right into the air, where I proceeded to take a nice deep breath, then cough for about 20 minutes, or until my lung came up… I don’t remember which happened first. Instead, remove the pan from the heat, THEN add your hot sauce. OR, mix your hot sauce and agave together in a bowl, and add to the pan together.
If you’ve read the recipe, you’re probably wondering how much hot sauce and how much agave to use. *shrug* Can’t help you there. I used up the last of a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot, which was probably a couple tablespoons, and then added a healthy drizzle of sriracha. Then drooled agave over everything. I just kept repeating those steps until all the bites were covered, which took a little while, since the tempeh was determined to soak up whatever I put on it. If you’re worried about making it too spicy, err on the side of not enough hot sauce. You can always add, but you can’t take away! I would guess (and I do mean GUESS) that I probably ended up with 2-4T of Red Hot / sriracha, and probably the same of agave.
Now, what the heck do you do with the nooch? Search me. I know it’s supposed to somehow turn into a breading, but dear god, that would take a LOT of nooch. I poured a hefty sprinkle over the pan until all my bites had a good coat, then flipped them over and sprinkled again. I flipped them over one more time, let them cook about a minute, then started pulling them from the pan. As you can see from my picture, there is no “breading” per se, but the nooch did add a nice flavor.
Ok, so this is a long post for a very fast recipe… The whole thing probably took ten minutes. This really WOULD be great for a last-minute appetizer, but we had them for dinner with some chips and guac. Super, super delicious, and I suspect even meat-eaters would be pleased by the texture. The nutrition info below is for four servings, of about 8 bites per serving, which was quite filling with the side dish.