Get to know our tempeh with the tempeh noodle kit
by Kara Elder
July 21, 2020
Number 1 Sons has been perfecting their tempeh-making process for the past year — and now it's ready to roll. Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian fermented food made from soybeans (it goes back to at least the 1700s!!). It absorbs flavor well, cooks up beautifully with crisp edges + is high in protein. The Number 1 Sons tempeh is made with black soybeans sourced from Next Step Produce; the hot and humid weather of DC makes for perfect tempeh-making conditions.
For a little more context, here's Yi Wah + Caitlin explaining more about their tempeh connections. (And also check out this article for more context on tempeh's place in vegan cooking in the US.)
Crispy tempeh is the perfect addition to summer noodles. To bring you a little inspiration, N1S paired up with Liv from Toki Underground to bring you a tempeh noodle kit. Toki provides a black sesame sauce, chili crisp topping, and fresh noodles; local farmers are growing the rest of the goods; and you get to practice your knife skills and play in the kitchen!
A printed copy of the recipe comes with your kit, but Yi Wah + Caitlin cooked up a video to show you how it's done, plus share some impromptu cooking tips + friendly banter :). (P.S. Let us know if you'd like to see more cooking videos; we have stories, techniques, and cooking tips to share!)
Key tips for storing + cooking N1S tempeh:
- When you receive your tempeh, cook it within a day or freeze it for longer storage. Defrost in the refrigerator.
- Cook the whole piece at once, in hot oil, until crispy and browned on both sides. If you cut it pre-cooking, it will fall apart (and still be tasty, but we prefer the texture + eating experience of it holding together).
- We don't enjoy our tempeh raw. The sweet spot is "medium rare" — seared/browned on both sides, but still soft and light on the inside.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt once it's done cooking!
- If you have leftover cooked tempeh, eat it within a few days. Use it in any dish that you'd like a pop of nutty, funky protein.
And in case you lost your recipe, here it is:
This recipe makes enough for two generous servings, plus leftovers. Eat this hot or cold! If you have summer squash, eggplant, or string beans hanging around, feel free to cook those up for toppings, too. Summer’s bounty goes well together!
- 1 to 2 small onions (to taste)
- ¼ to ½ cup vinegar from your pantry
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste (optional)
- 1 cucumber
- ½ to 1 pint cherry tomatoes (to taste)
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- Veg oil from your pantry
- 1 block Number 1 Sons tempeh
- 3 bundles fresh ramen
- Sesame sauce (to taste)
- Chili crisp
- Herbs of your choosing
- Number 1 Sons sauerkraut and sambal, for serving (optional)
(Psst, are you good at multitasking? Start step 2 and let the tempeh cook while you do step 1.)
Prep the vegetables. Remove the onion greens from the onion, then peel and thinly slice the onion and put in a bowl or jar and add vinegar just to cover. (Use a lighter vinegar, such as apple cider, rice, white, or Keepwell’s Bitter Lemon or Ginger vinegar.) Season with a pinch of salt and sugar (if using), then let sit while you continue.
Thinly slice the onion greens. Julienne the cucumber. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Stem the mushrooms and tear the caps into chunks. (Keep the stems for broth or cook later with the rest of the mushrooms to add to your pickled onion leftovers.)
Cook the tempeh and mushrooms. Heat ~1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once shimmery, add the whole block of tempeh. It should sizzle when it hits the pan! Let it cook undisturbed until it’s deeply golden on the bottom (5 to 10 minutes), then flip and cook the other side.
Once you’ve flipped the tempeh, scoot it to one side, then add the torn mushroom caps to the other. Season with salt and let cook until nice and golden. Color = flavor and crunchy bits. When the tempeh and mushrooms are done, remove from the skillet. Cut the tempeh into chunks and salt liberally.
While the tempeh is cooking, start a medium pot of water boiling. No need to salt water. Drop in the noodles and cook until tender (about 1 1/2 mins). Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking more; save the pasta cooking water.
- Dress the noodles and assemble. Portion the noodles into serving bowls, then pour black sesame sauce (to taste) over each. Swirl it all together to coat the noodles, adding pasta water if necessary. Top with chili crisp, tempeh, mushrooms, and all your prepped vegetables. Tear your herbs and scatter over top. Don’t forget the pickled onion! If you want another acidic pop, add some sauerkraut. More spice? Sambal!
If you have any leftover vegetables, toss them all together and dress with salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar for a quick little salad.
Happy cooking + eating, thanks for supporting your local food system.