I’ve traveled extensively throughout parts of Southeast Asia and never tire of exploring its flavours and ingredients. To me one of the most striking flavours of the region is fragrant lemongrass, which has become a solid kitchen staple. I think it’s quite underrated in the West, where we use it mainly only to flavour Thai curries and soups, but it has so much more potential. Inspired by the region’s cuisine in general, this recipe uses raw lemongrass in a tempeh salad with a sesame/lime/sugar/soy sauce combination that never ceases to blow my mind. If you love heat then be sure to add some thinly sliced chilies to the mix.
Minced Tempeh Salad with Lemongrass, Sesame, and Cashews
- 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, minced
- 2 tsp palm or light brown sugar
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 1-2 spring onions, cut into thick slices
- Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
- 5 small Asian shallots, sliced thinly (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (about 1 tablespoon)
- handful of cashews
- Fresh lime, for garnish (optional)
- Heat about 1/2 an inch of oil to medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Line a large plate (or two) with paper towels.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the salad ingredients up to and including the spring onions.
- To begin the frying process, add the cashews to the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on the paper towels.
- Follow with the shallots, which you’ll need to fry for 1/2 minutes, until just turning brown but not burnt. Remove as above. Fry the garlic in the same manner for 30 seconds (absolutely do not let burn). Remove and place on the paper towels.
- 105 grams (3/4 cup) tempeh in 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
- 1 tsp palm or light brown sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sri racha
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- Stir the tamarind, sugar, soy sauce, sri racha together in a medium bowl. Add the tempeh and mix through to soak up the liquid. Tip in the rice flour and toss to coat the tempeh evenly.
- Tip in the tempeh mixture into the oil, stirring frequently to ensure it’s evenly fried. After 4-5 minutes the tempeh will be crispy and a deep golden brown. Remove it with the slotted spoon and place on the paper towels.
- To put the salad together you can plate the individual components seperately or combine everything; that’s down to personal preference (as is whether you choose to eat it hot or cold). Serve with sri racha and/or thin slices of fresh chili and a slice of lime.