Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Congressional Kabuki; Tempeh and Tofu Cooked Salad

This morning I saw a famously insincere politician mouthing platitudes on television. In an attempt to agree with the person asking him rather predictable questions, he described congressional confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court justices as "sad Kabuki theater".  My first thought was: "how pretentious -- why drag Kabuki into this?"  

Then, I learned that the word "kabuki" is believed to derive from the verb kabuku, meaning "to be out of the ordinary", which is hardly an apt description for most congressional hearings.

However, a propos of politics, one remark I discovered last year did come to mind.  It's from the Scottish novelist Muriel Spark and it goes like this: "All politicians simply want to manipulate people; that, mixed with a marked tendency to kleptomania".

I found the Kabuki photo above on another blogger's website.  She entitled it, interestingly, "Congressional Kabuki".  I have no idea what she meant.

But I'm "re-cured".  No more morning television.

Following is a superb recipe for Tempeh and Tofu Cooked Salad, which is taken from Sri Owen's Exotic Feasts:

425 g (14 oz) tempeh
375 g (12 oz) tofu
125 g (4 oz) beansprouts
2 green chilis, seeded and finely sliced
3 shallots, finely sliced
1 tsp very finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. mild vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
6 tbsp water
salt to taste
125 ml (4 fl oz) sunflower oil for frying the tempeh and tofu

Cut the tempeh and tofu into thin pieces, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) square.  Wash the beansprouts and drain in a colander. 

In a non-stick frying pan, fry the tempeh in several batches until it is just beginning to turn yellow. Do the same with the tofu.  Set these aside on absorbent paper.

Discard the oil, except for 2 tablespoonsful.  Fry the chilis, shallots, ginger and garlic, stirring continuously for one minute or so, then add the vinegar, soy sauce, mustard and ginger.  Stir again and add the water.  Let this mixture simmer for 2 minutes, then taste and add salt if needed.

Now put in the fried tempeh and tofu, stir them around and add the beansprouts.   Stir again and leave to simmer for just 2 minutes.  Serve warm or cold as preferred.

Please note that Sri Owen serves this dish as part of a vegan menu consisting of:

Sweetcorn and smoked tofu soup

Wild and white rice pilaf served with:
Spiced aubergine loaf with red pepper sauce and
Tempeh and Tofu cooked salad

Avocado and coconut ice cream

This is the only part of the menu we have prepared, but I've never gone wrong with Sri Owen's recipes or recommendations.


  1. From Wikipedia: "Tempeh, or tempe in Indonesian, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy-foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in China or Japan. It originated in today's Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but tempeh is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin. It has a firm texture and strong flavor. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue."

    Tempeh is delicious! You find it in health food stores and probably at Whole Foods.