four restaurants in Des Moines, Iowa—
South Union Bread Café, Centro, Django
and Gateway Market & Café. Tempeh is
one of his favorite flavorful soy products.
As fermented soy that comes in blocks, he
likes it for its texture and for the fact that
it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook
it with. If prepared right, guests may not
even know there is no meat in the dish.
Iowa Soybean Association
Formaro has made tempeh grinders for
the Iowa State Fair, a popular event in his
area. He considers his tempeh grinder a
State Fair makeover. Consumers often
ask what kind of sausage he used to
make it and are surprised to learn it is soy.
He crumbles tempeh, sautés it in a bit of
olive oil and adds a sausage/spice blend
with ground chilis, ground fennel, garlic
and a few other spices. He cooks it with
some water to let the flavor penetrate
Those who eat this tempeh grinder created by George Formaro, chef/partner of four
Des Moines, Iowa, restaurants, never realize they aren’t eating meat.
the tempeh, then adds tomato sauce
and continues cooking. His secret for an
extra-meaty flavor is to add a tiny splash
of soy sauce. After all the flavors come
together, he splits a hoagie roll, adds
mozzarella cheese, bakes it a minute and
spoons the tempeh mixture on top.
a long time. In the last hour, throw in
browned cubes of tempeh, which gives
it a mushroomy characteristic, much like
mushrooms in bourguignon,” he says. The
tempeh acts like a sponge, soaking up all
the flavors around it.
Formaro also likes to make tempeh chili.
He starts with crumbled tempeh rather
than ground beef, and chili powder rather
than chili peppers. In the end, you can add
cheddar cheese, sour cream and chopped
onions, just like regular chili.
As restaurants look for a little something
interesting and unique for the serving staff
to promote, in the case of beef bourguignon,
they can explain the added twist of a tempeh
preparation. “The nice thing about it is that
you’re not saying to someone, ‘Would you like
braised tempeh for dinner tonight?’” Koetke
says. “You’re adding a flavoring or textural
element. It’s less risky for the customer.”
This summer-vegetable suimono is made
with white soy sauce. It has heirloom
tomatoes, tofu, extra virgin olive oil, fennel,
peppercress, squash, radish and arugula
in a dashi broth with grated karasumi
(mullet roe). Adding white soy sauce to
dashi is a great way to develop soy flavor
while keeping a clear, mild broth or sauce,
says Nicolaus Balla, executive chef, Bar
Tartine, San Francisco
He urges chefs to consider their reason
for using soy in a dish and grapple with
whether or not to combine meat and
soy. “A talented chef can make a dish
taste good without the meat, so why
bother with meat? I don’t need to stretch
my sausage out. Just make tempeh
sausage and get the full load of health
benefits and hit the target audience of
vegetarians,” he says.
Koetke has a different view of the
marriage of meat and soy. He suggests
braising tempeh as part of beef
bourguignon or veal cheeks. “Those cook
SOY MILK SUBSTITUTE
Soy milk with a touch of tamari for added
flavor can be used as a substitute for
cream in some recipes, says Hunnel. He
advises using half heavy cream and half
soy milk, gently reducing them together.
“The body of the cream will assist as
a thickening agent. Otherwise, add a
slurry of arrowroot or corn starch.” The
advantage of the cream/soy combination
is that it reduces the fat and it adds a
nutty characteristic, especially if you use
fresh, unpasteurized soy milk.