When you Google sous vide tempeh, not a whole lot appears. Granted, there aren't many vegans who own a vacuum sealer and immersion circulator, other than the crazy man that I live with. This turned out so well that I really wanted to share this with you guys.
After some experimenting with sealing vegetables and cooking them slowly in the immersion circulator, which is basically a controlled temperature water bath, we learned a few things. 1) Preparing veggies this way does delicious things to them by trapping in the flavor. 2) This is incredibly convenient for busy home cooks because you are literally putting something in a bag and walking away while it cooks. 3) Cooking food in this manner allows you to leave it sealed in the bags, meaning it will keep for up to a couple of weeks. Big batch cooking = easy meals for many days.
This lead to the ultimate question for any vegan obsessed with fine-tuning fermented soybean products: What happens when you prepare tempeh sous vide? It makes total sense, right? In my experience with cooking tempeh, it has always been a two step process: I boil it for at least 10 minutes to remove the commonly bitter flavor and then finish it in a saute pan, on the grill, or in the oven. It's always really good but takes a lot of work and needs a lot of flavor as far as marinades or sauces. It's more time-consuming than say, tofu or mushrooms, which you can basically throw in a pan with some spices and knock it out of the park. Tempeh requires a bit more love and attention. But when you nail it, you nail it. If you've ever had tempeh prepared by an Indonesian grandmother, you know what I mean.
With the sous vide method, it does the same thing to tempeh but with less effort and more control. And the taste and texture will blow your mind. It takes 5 minutes prep time, but it's mostly hands off after that and then less than 5 minutes to finish and plate. Reason enough to give this a go if you have access to the equipment.
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tsp sugar
salt, pepper to taste
1 pkg tempeh (we used organic Trader Joes)
Put ingredients in the plastic bag, no need to mix. You are going to vacuum seal this mixture in the plastic bag with the tempeh. You want your ingredients to be mainly solid so that they are not sucked out by the vacuum. If you want to use your own sauce and your sauce contains liquid, you can freeze it in empty ice cube trays ahead of time so that it is frozen solid. *If you have a chamber vacuum (outrageously expensive and I'm jealous), then using liquids as is will be fine.
Heat the water to 180 degrees (also the same temperature that we prepare root vegetables in case you want to cook your entire meal at once). Shoot for 2-3 hours at this cooking temperature and then slice open that bag. It just gets more tender after 2 hours. The root vegetables can be tossed in later as they do not require as much time.
To finish it, just toss it in a saute pan at high heat for a minute or so just to get a sear on the outside. No need to prep the pan with oil, just use the liquid in the bag. It will steam up, so be careful.
Teriyaki Sauce Variation (as show in photos)
(adapted from Detox Teriyaki Sauce from It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow)1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/6 cup brown rice syrup or raw honey
1 tsp mirin
1 tbsp water
Combine ingredients and freeze in ice cube tray. Then add frozen cubes to the bag with the following:
1 inch minced ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp barley miso
1 package tempeh (we used organic Trader Joes)
Follow sous vide cooking instructions above.
We served the teriyaki version with sous vide radishes (cooked at same temp), steamed broccoli, and brown rice prepared in the rice cooker garnished with scallions and cilantro, with a tamari sauce on the side. Here's a shot of the sous vide radishes getting a quick finish in the pan: