Tempeh Burgers

Last night Lauren decided she wanted to try something completely different. I can't really explain why because I don't know. She bought some tempeh over the weekend as had convinced herself it was going to taste really good. Lately she has been giving me a hard time about how our meals are always based around meat. Again, why? I don't know. I happen to be good at cooking and eating meat.

So I deferred to her on this meal and last night we had tempeh burgers with corn on the cob and asparagus.

Tempeh, or tempe in Javanese, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. It 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 vitamins compared to tofu, as well as firmer texture and stronger flavor. Tofu, by contrast, is said to be more versatile in dishes. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue.

Thats a whole bunch of vegan propaganda right there. It is not a meat analogue, though if you were a vegan and deprived yourself of all the meaty goodness of cows, pigs and chickens I could see how you would talk yourself into believing that. From a distance it kind of looks like a burger. That photo isn't ours. I got it from another blog, but we also topped our burgers with caramelized onions and mushrooms.

The best thing about the tempeh burgers is that they were hot. I was actually quite surprised at how well they heated through and how long the heat held. The worst thing about the burgers was the texture, but I'll readily admit that I have food texture issues. I like banana flavored foods (breads, muffins, etc), but I won't eat bananas because of the texture. I'll get about two bites down and my brain will shout 

"you feel that? how it mushes like that in your teeth. thats what rotten fruit does. You're eating rotten fruit. Freak out... now!".

The texture was like undercooked beans I guess. Bean like, but really firm. Like a super dry hamburger made of wet packing peanuts. So for 75% of my tempeh burger I ate like a dog. Huge bites, two, maybe three quick chews and a swallow. I washed those bites down with some roasted asparagus. When I ran out of asparagus I stopped eating my burger and ate my piece of corn.

I'm not entirely opposed to eating vegetarian, but I have a principle opposition to the practice of making food to look like something its not and giving the impostor food a name that furthers the deception.  And yes, those principles extend beyond the realm of vegan cuisine. I had the same ethical objection to the 9,000 calorie "salads" they advertise on TV. But that is neither here nor there.

In the future, if we're going to eat vegetarian for a night I rather skip the soy bean gymnastics and just stick to combinations of vegetables that I'd be willing to eat a la carte. On the plus side I didn't get any crazy indigestion, so it appears my issues were mostly mental.

Lauren, if you read this I apologize. Tempeh just isn't for me.


Rach said...

funny Ba. I must center all my meals around meat or Peter is not interested....not that he hates vegetables...he's just really strict about his meatetarian diet.

I feel similarly about cherries, but with the flavor. I LOVE fresh black cherries....or the bing cherries that come out in late June....but I HATE cherry flavored things....it all just tastes like cough syrup. And this isn't just cherry candy...even tarts, cakes, & muffins. Also, on the texture thing....I hate those fruit snacks Gushers....the ones that explode all that gross sugar liquid in your mouth when you chew on them....just thinking about it makes me nauseous.