Hi again! I am back, and I have a new recipe that I wanted to share with you all for this month’s fair food friday challenge. I thought it would be fun to share my experiences trying to prepare a sustainable plant-based substitute for one of my favorite foods from America, fried buffalo style chicken. Inspired by my craving for buffalo sauce and Live Eat Learn’s Sarah Bond baked version of this recipe, I decided that I would give buffalo style fried tempeh tenders a shot for this month’s challenge.

For those who do not know what buffalo sauce is yet, it is a delicious sauce that packs the perfect combination of tang, sweetness, and spice. It is known for having a distinctly burnt orange color, and it pairs excellently with just about anything, especially if it’s fried. Tempeh on the other hand is an Indonesian soy based protein that has a nutty flavor, and can serve as a more sustainable substitute for meat products like chicken. It is available in most grocery stores, so it is also not too hard to find which I always find to be a nice bonus.

Ingredients

  • Tempeh
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Eggs (2-4)
  • Flour
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Ranch or Garlic Sauce (optional)

For the buffalo sauce, I recommend Frank’s red hot buffalo sauce, as I think it’s the only buffalo hot sauce that’s somewhat widely available here in the Netherlands. However, if you’re not up for fully delving into the American cuisine, then you can also try to substitute it out for a sweet chili or hot sauce. For serving, I found that this dish compliments well with celery and a good dipping sauce, especially ranch dressing. However, since that is not really popular out here in Holland, you can also try it with a garlic sauce.

To Prepare:  

  1. Season tempeh block with a mix of salt, pepper, paprika, chili, then marinade in buffalo sauce for a minimum of 3 hours. If you have the time, I recommend letting it marinade overnight.
  2. Once marinated, cut the tempeh into tinder like slices.
  3. After slicing, coat the slices first in flour, then coat with egg mixture, and then breadcrumbs. For an extra crispy variation, just repeat this process an extra time
  4. In a medium-hot pan, add a generous amount of oil (150-200 ml),
  5. Once oil is starting to sizzle, add the tempeh to the pan and fry until all sides are crispy and a golden brown (takes about 10 minutes).

Was it Tasty and Easy to Prepare?

 Overall, I found this dish pretty easy to prepare. It was really easy finding all of the ingredients, and they were all quite affordable. The hardest part for me preparing this dish, and definitely the messiest, was prepping the tempeh for frying, and applying the flour, egg, and breadcrumb mixture. Based on my experience, I would say that your fingers are almost guaranteed to get messy during this step.

Taste wise, I found the texture to be good, as it was firm and mimicked that of meat quite well. It was also really filling! However I did have some struggles adjusting to the nutty flavor of the tempeh. After doing some research post-eating, I learned that I may be able to reduce this nutty flavor by simmering the tempeh in hot water for about ten minutes prior to marinating it. I aim to apply this technique next time I am cooking with tempeh, so I will make sure to keep you all updated.

Was it Fair and Sustainable?

In comparison to the meat variety of this dish I would say that this recipe is relatively sustainable. As a soy based product, tempeh is widely understood to be a more sustainable protein source than meat products. However, the overall sustainability of the commodities present levels of production are still in question given its intensive use as an input for animal and livestock feeds. As per the World Wildlife Fund’s Sarah Halevy, about “75% of soy produced today globally is done for this purpose.”

#Hiddensoy – recent infographic on the hidden world of soy © WWF

For me personally, this does not dissuade me from incorporating more soy based proteins into my diet, as the soy I am eating was not produced for the purpose of animal feed. However, I am curious to hear about your thoughts on this debate regarding soy consumption and its role moving forward in our diets. Do you think it is sustainable to incorporate more soy based products into our diets? Have you found any other plant based proteins that you like, that serve as tasty alternatives to meats? Please leave a comment and feel free to share your thoughts on what plant based proteins you think I should try for next month’s update!

Author: Eric Little – YF Food for Thought Communications Coordinator