Until about two months ago I had only had Tempeh twice in my life. The first time, I bought the package, tasted it, and threw it out. The second time, I bought the package, cooked it, tasted it, and threw it out.
The third time, I had better luck. A vegetarian coworker brought in a sample of a barbeque Tempeh recipe she swore would change my heart. She was right: one bite and I was hooked. The baked Tempeh had none of the sour, harsh, fermented flavors of my previous attempt -- it was dense and chewy, with a wonderfully hearty flavor. Although I am sure there are purists out there that eat this fermented soybean product raw and unadulterated, it turns out that my unaccustomed taste buds require Tempeh to be cooked for a really long time before it seems edible. How long exactly is "a really long time"? It probably depends on the marinade, but I have learned that the heat and flavorings better reach every last grain on the inside of the Tempeh sheet before I venture a bite. For baking, that means at least 40 minutes to an hour, depending on thickness. I strongly dislike sour flavors, so perhaps others wouldn't be so picky as I am.
I've raved about a vegetarian sandwich before, and here I'll rave again. Both sandwiches are delicious, healthy and satisfying (avacado-based fat in the former and hearty protein and fiber in the latter). This is the kind of sandwich that actually will fill you up, and as an added bonus, it turns out that Tempeh is easier to digest than Tofu. I think even if I tried, I couldn't make this recipe more simple. I don't even bother mixing the marinade: I just measure the ingredients into a pan, slice the tempeh and let it bake for an hour. I assemble the slices of baked Tempeh on whole-grain bread with sharp greens (Mache or Arugula are good), sprouts, sliced red onion, and a decent slathering of mayo - which in my opinion, is key. Greg's sandwich gets tomatoes and cheese too.
Makes enough Tempeh for about four sandwiches
1 /2lb Tempeh (usually this is one package, and different varieties are available - anything grain based is fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
Optional spices*: 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder, 1/2 tsp thyme, and several dashes of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice Tempeh in half once, and then in half (thickness-wise) again. Measure wet ingredients into a baking dish that is small enough so that all of the Tempeh will be covered and layer in the Tempeh. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
*The other flavors in the dish dominate so I don't usually bother with the spices... adding them gives the Tempeh more of a barbeque flavor