Monday, April 04, 2011

Tempeh Sausages

The word "hippie" gets bandied about a lot at my house, mock-branding various offenses against the sensibilities of our modern and disposable culture. Washing and reusing plastic bags, for one. Bringing one's own pyrex containers for leftovers to a restaurant (because, as I like to tell people, I am just that cool). Applying curry powder to any dish that doesn't really warrant it. There's a chance I'm over-applying the term.

But every so often I make a dish that is truly, undeniably deserving of the hippie label. Like these tempeh sausages (or, if you will, "soysages"). Their offenses are numerous: they're a mock meat, involve use of inappropriate seasonings (although that's partially my fault), and, most damningly, were developed at an actual honest-to-juice commune founded in the 1970s. Also? They're pretty darned good.

If you're looking for a vegetarian breakfast accompaniment, these are hard to beat. To be fair, my heart does belong to the Morningstar Farms veggie bacon, but every now and then it seems like a good idea to consume breakfast foods that don't feature disodium guanylate and artificial flavors (from non-meat sources, they point out, but still). At those times, I heartily recommend these tempeh sausages. Tempeh is steamed and grated, then mixed with a series of seasonings that give it a somewhat meaty depth. It's formed into patties and pan-fried, perfect for accompanying your waffles. Let it be known, I have no illusions that anyone would confuse these soysauges for the real thing. But I think they're pretty great in their own right. Yeah, I know I'm a hippie.

And if you're hungering for food that you wouldn't be embarrassed to serve to company, I present instead a dispatch from a Sephardic-style dinner party a friend recently hosted. The recipes are drawn from several sources, and together make for a menu that would be perfect for a sunny Passover Seder. Or any celebration of spring, really. You can read the details at Mix Magazine.

Tempeh Sausage

adapted from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook
yields ~12 sausages, depending on size (serves ~4)

8 ounces tempeh
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp thyme
large pinch asafoetida (this is my addition, and optional, but it gives a nice funky depth if you've got it)
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp warm water
2 Tbsp oil (I use canola)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
oil for pan-frying

Steam the tempeh over simmering water for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then grate on the coarse holes of a box grater. Add dry ingredients (sage, thyme, asafoetida, flour) and stir to combine, then add liquid ingredients (water, oil and soy sauce) and mix until combined. The finished product should be neither too wet nor too dry, and easily hold a shape when squeezed together.

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over a medium flame. Pinch off small amounts of the sausage mixture (a tablespoon or two), and press into thin patties. Pan-fry the patties until brown, and then flip and brown the other side (they should only take a few minutes per side). Serve hot.


  1. so excited to try this! been thinking about reducing my mock-meat intake because of all the big word ingredients, so this is perfect.

  2. Ah yes. Love living in the Pac NW where tempeh is never out of the norm. Will definitely be giving these a try.

  3. oh my, these sound delicious! i've been struggling with meat-free breakfast sausages lately (they just don't BROWN or CRISP UP well!), but i think these might do the trick. plus i have tempeh hanging out in my fridge right now, just begging to be used!

    ps: my parents were (/still are) complete hippies and i've always had a love/hate relationship with the labels associated with that word. while i've never self-identified as "a hippie," at this point, though, i totally own it when someone else calls me that.

  4. Your hippie qualifications are hilarious. I love it. I was reading though going.. check, check, check! It's almost as if Hippie has gone from pronoun to Verb. So great. I haven't had an issue with take out boxes yet, somehow we manage to decimate the plates of wherever we venture. Oops. These tempeh sausages look great!