Sriracha Tempeh Lettuce Wraps. Butter lettuce cups filled with baked marinated tempeh, onions and peppers topped with crispy cabbage, carrots and cashews.
How do you get your protein? This is the first question I’m always asked after mentioning I don’t eat meat. Answering is super fun because while I like chatting about all kinds of food I really ♥ talking tempeh!
When someone is curious about the protein in our diets (meaning what Tim and I eat) I start by yammering on about the usual suspects like hummus, quinoa, tofu, beans and yogurt. They nod politely with glazed eyes that seem to say – “just as boring as I thought.”
Then I get a little quieter. Softer. Like I’m about to share with them the secret to the most delicious high protein meat-free meal (cause I am). I lightly whisper…tempeh.
They lean in closer…Wait what did you say? Say it again? What is that?
It’s not like tempeh is a secret (though it kind of feels that way) it’s just that this protein-powerhouse gets so little attention. If you aren’t following a meat-free diet chances are you have never seen or heard of it. A few years ago I had no clue tempeh existed.
So what is tempeh?
Short Answer: Tempeh is a flat cake of fermented cooked soybeans usually mixed with grains. It can be found near the tofu at natural food stores and some major grocery chains.
It can be pretty wild looking too and sometimes has brown, black and gray spots on it from the natural culturing process (like cheese) ← Suuuper sexy right 🙂
I’ll save you the history lesson but if you want to learn more about the origin, production and preparation of tempeh Wikipedia has you covered and then some!
Straight out of the package tempeh tastes quite unique with a mix of nutty flavor and earthy mushroominess (yep, now I’m making up words). Some people do find it slightly bitter or sour which makes sense when you consider that it has been fermented.
Even though tempeh is fully cooked and can be consumed “raw” it’s usually prepared with a marinade or sauce to eliminate any bitter flavor. Personally, I think the “raw” flavor depends on the brand.
Our favorite tempeh is from Trader Joe’s. It’s budget-friendly at $1.99 for 8 ounces, organic and has a mix of tasty grains like brown rice and barley. One 4oz serving has 0mg Cholesterol, 15% of your daily Iron, 9 grams of Fiber and a whopping 20 grams of Protein!
Different from the eggy-ness of tofu, tempeh has a much firmer toothy texture. This makes it a terrific addition to stir fry, crumbled into spaghetti sauce or fried for tacos. These Crispy Tempeh Tacos from Macheesmo are crazy good and one of my all-time favorite tempeh recipes.
So now I’m pretending you didn’t abandon me after the first paragraph → at the fermented cake part → or around the nutty mushroom flavor talk 🙂 and that you’re just dying to hear all about these Sriracha Tempeh Lettuce Wraps…
They’re spicy, tangy, sweet and crunchy. Like guilty pleasure take-out food but using way better ingredients.
The marinade is bold and richly flavored with Sriracha sauce, sesame oil, salty liquid aminos (or soy sauce), tangy rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and fresh orange zest.
You can marinate the tempeh, peppers and onions for a quick 30 minutes or make the marinade before work and let the flavors soak in all day. Either way start with an oven safe dish (
like Pyrex 3/12/2017 Update: Pyrex is not safe to use in your toaster oven for more information check out this post for 4 Surprising Things You Should Never Use In A Toaster Oven).
After you’ve baked your tempeh grab a head of lettuce and throw together some perfect-for-summer sriracha tempeh lettuce wraps.
You can use any type of lettuce like romaine or iceberg. Butter lettuce is my favorite because it tastes great and is so much fun to look at, I keep expecting a Cabbage Patch Kid to pop out of it! Doubling up the lettuce leaves means extra veggies and added structure for your wraps.
Spoon the cooked tempeh filling onto the leaves and top with crispy red cabbage, shredded carrots, buttery cashews and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is the finishing touch on this meat-free dinner that’s bursting with bright flavors and textures!
Have you ever had tempeh, did you like it? What’s your favorite way to prepare tempeh? If you’ve never had tempeh does it sound to “out-there” or would you consider trying it?
Seriously, I can’t believe I have more to share either 🙂
We use Bragg Liquid Aminos because we like the flavor and it is less processed. Although it has less sodium than your regular soy sauce it is not a low-sodium food.
If sodium is a concern for you, a quick glance at the nutritional information might have you saying “Holy Sodium Batman!” In this case substitute 3 tablespoons of your favorite low-sodium soy sauce for the liquid aminos.
Another option is Coconut Aminos, a low-sodium sauce made from coconut flower blossoms. It can be found on Amazon, at heath food stores and some major grocery chains (Tim got our bottle at Sprouts Farmers Market).
We tried this recipe using the Coco Aminos from Big Tree Farms which has 160mg per teaspoon. When substituted equally for the liquid aminos it reduced the sodium to 399mg per serving. The final dish was missing that earthy salty quality and instead tasted more like a spicy/sweet orange chicken flavored dish. Not bad – just different and much sweeter (even after eliminating the maple syrup).