Sri Lankan Tempeh Skewers with Hot Cashew Sambal
Tempeh has a great texture and nutty flavor, but it can soak up oil like a sponge. Traditional recipes for tempeh deep-fry it, but not so here. This technique steams moisture into it, marinates it, and then bakes it for a delicious result.
1 pound tempeh, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 whole red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
vegetable oil spray
3 large serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup dry-roasted unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon palm sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
Cube the tempeh and steam for 5 minutes -- don’t skip this step or the tempeh will be dry.
In a food processor or coffee grinder, make a paste of ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric, salt, and soy sauce. Rub the tempeh with paste. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours.
To make sambal: Grind the serranos in a food processor or coffee grinder. Then add cashews and process until very finely minced. Add sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and tamarind pulp, and pureé. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Heat the oven to 425°. Preheat a heavy baking sheet for 5 minutes. Carefully skewer the tempeh and onion, supporting the cubes with your fingers on either side as you push the skewer through. Take out the sheet, spray with oil, and put the skewers on the sheet. Spray again and put the sheet back in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the skewers and bake until brown, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with sambal.