This bowl full of sticky crispy orange glazed tempeh, quick pickled cucumber, sushi rice and crunchy bits is the perfect weeknight dinner. It's satisfying, packed with flavour and takes less than 30 minutes to put together.
When planning this recipe, I went back and forth between using tempeh and tofu as the hero protein. Although they're both soy products, the two have entirely different processes, flavours and characteristics. Whilst tofu is made from soy milk, tempeh is made by fermenting the soybeans themselves. As a result, tempeh has its own unique and particular flavour, as opposed to tofu which is pretty neutral and on its own, a little bland (sorry tofu). But these different flavour profiles makes them each best suited to different things. Whereas tofu is a great light and spongey blank canvas for any marinade, sauce or batter, tempeh is firmer, funkier, tastier and can run the show on its own.
For this recipe, I wondered if tempeh would clash with the orange glaze or whether it would complement it. In the end I tried both, and although they were both delicious, tempeh really stood out. The texture of it was crispy, sticky and so satisfying and the flavour really complex and delicious. Feel free to use tofu if that's all you have though - you can follow the same instructions as for the tempeh, just make sure you squeeze it out and pat it dry before slicing it to ensure it crisps up well.
2 tbsp neutral oil
150ml orange juice (around 2 oranges)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp rice vinegar
Quick pickled cucumber:
1 large cucumber, peeled into ribbons
50ml white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
Sushi rice, cooked
3 spring onions, finely sliced
40g toasted peanuts
Start by preparing the quick pickled cucumber. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Add the cucumber ribbons and press them down to submerge them in the liquid. Let them sit while you prepare the tempeh.
If using a block of tempeh, slice it in half through the middle then slice each half into triangles. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over medium high, then add the sliced tempeh. Let cook untouched, for 3-4 minutes - until the heat facing side is crispy. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
While the tempeh cooks, add orange juice, maple syrup, tamari, ginger and rice vinegar to a bowl and whisk to combine. When both sides of tempeh have crisped, add the orange mixture to the pan.
Cook the liquid down until it reduces to a glaze, then flip the tempeh pieces around so they’re thoroughly coated in it. Remove from heat and set aside.
Serve cooked rice topped with a few pieces of tempeh, cucumber ribbons, spring onions, toasted peanuts, sesame seeds and extra toppings (if using).
Valentina is our Food Creative, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.