Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cook: Tempeh Brisket Fried Rice

Last night I was awakened from my sleep by a rustling sound. I opened my eyes and blinked a few times to remove the sleep from them. Eventually things cleared up enough for me to see what made the noise and it wasn't what I expected. I figured my dog, my cat or possibly my sleep walking daughter. I did not expect to see a gigantic bottle of soy sauce with wings flittering around the room.

"About time you woke up," the flying soy sauce bottle announced when it noticed me sitting up in bed. "I'm not going to mess around here, I'm the ghost of fried rice past and I'm here to take you on a journey." With that we were whisked back fifteen years. There I was living in Addison Park in Chicago. My kitchen was in disarray, dishes everywhere, half empty cereal boxes and whole foods desserts littered the counter space. I was in the process of making fried rice. I watched myself grab a minute rice package, cook it, combine it with some soy sauce and then saute it in a pan for a few moments. I then threw in some frozen veggies, poured more soy sauce on top and served it in the only clean bowl left in the kitchen. The giant soy sauce bottle looked at me and said "See what you did there?" I replied with a cringe.

Next we were whisked forward to 2005. I was living in Gainesville. The kitchen wasn't nearly the mess it had been in Chicago. Every once in a while you would see a roach skitter out and in the finger of of pot holder glove. Aw, the joys of living in Florida. This time my fried rice is brown, it has just spent forty minutes cooking on the stove. I take it, all fresh like, and dump it into a pan that has some tofu browning. I stir the rice and protein around a bit, toss in some frozen veggies, add a sauce and let it simmer out. "See what you did there?" the soy sauce bottle mockingly asked. I nodded.

Suddenly I was back in my room, present day, and the soy sauce ghost was flittering around again. "There is an art to cooking fried rice, young, well...middle aged grasshopper. Please follow that art or don't bother trying." With that he was gone. Today, I made sure to heed his advice.

Tempeh Brisket Fried Rice (adapted from an Adam Richman Recipe)
(printable version)

For the brisket:
-1 pound of tempeh
-1/4 cup of coffee
-9 ounces of ginger ale
-3 ounces of coke (not drugs, soda)
-1/4 cup of soy sauce
-1/4 onion, diced
-3/4 tsp. garlic powder
-salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Mix all the ingredients for the brisket in a large ziplock bag. Crumble the tempeh block and put it in the bag. Seal it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the brisket in a large roasting pan along with the marinade. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast the tempeh for 3 hours. Remove the aluminum foil and cook for another 30 minutes. Take the tempeh out of the oven and let it sit in the marinade for  another 30 minutes.

For the fried rice:
-1 pound of tempeh
-2 ears of corn
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-four garlic cloves, sliced thin
-3 cups of day old brown rice
-2 Tbs. soy sauce
-1 Tbs. sesame oil
-1 bag of frozen carrots, peppers and asparagus, thawed
-1/2 bag of frozen peas, thawed

1. Roast the corn until it is cooked. Allow it to cool. Cut the kernels from the cob.

2. Place the oil in a large wok. Spread it around to cover the entire wok. Warm it over medium high heat until the oil is glistening (do not let it smoke). If it starts smoking, turn the heat down. Once the oil is at the right temperature, place the thawed veggies and corn into the wok. Heat them for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until warm. Remove them from the wok and set aside.

3. Using the same wok, pour in the tempeh brisket. Heat it in the wok until it begins to caramelize and brown. Add the tempeh to the veggies that you previously set aside.

4. Using the same wok, pour in the rice. Stir until the rice has been coated in oil. Smooth the rice out to cover as much surface area of the wok as possible. Allow it to cook for two minutes. Stir it and repeat. Keep doing this until the rice has the texture you want. Pour the soy sauce and sesame oil around the outside of the wok. Stir until the sauces have been combined. Add the veggies and tempeh brisket. Continue stirring for a minute or two, just enough to get the rice uniform. Dole out servings on plates and give a nice big smile. A certain soy sauce dude might just be bringing you back to this moment at some date in the future. If that happens, you want to be looking your finest.