Tempeh, a meat alternative made from soybeans, is a valuable product originating from Indonesia for people on a plant-based diet, or striving to eat healthier.
To make it, producers allow soybeans to ferment before adding a specific healthy bacteria to them. This bacteria grows and after a few days begins to connect together the individual pieces of soybean with a visible white fuzz. The entire 2-3 day process of creating tempeh results in more nutrients that are good for your gut and overall health.
Since this fuzzy-looking brick of beans is still a novel food product to many people around the world, we would like to share some tips on how to store your tempeh so that you can enjoy it safely and extend the shelf life.
1) Source Quality Tempeh
Whenever possible, find tempeh made from non-GMO soybeans and that are sustainably packaged. Most commonly found on the market is tempeh wrapped in plastic. While suppliers may use plastic as an easy way to extend the life of the tempeh, it also prevents us from accurately gauging the age of the tempeh and whether or not it has been frozen or refrozen multiple times. The means you could possibly buy tempeh that looks fine from the outside, but upon opening find it has a strong smell or brightly colored bacteria which should not be consumed.
2) Keep Tempeh Chilled
In supermarkets, we often only have the choice of plastic-wrapped tempeh. If this is the case, choose tempeh that looks the healthiest from the outside, and that’s stored in the coolest place. Doorless refrigeration or even freezers that are opened too frequently can result in lower quality tempeh. Keep in mind that even when refrigerating or freezing tempeh, the bacteria is still active. This is the reason you tempeh may continue to age and yellow when stored at cold temperatures. For safe storage, be sure to reference food safety guidelines and check the temperature of your refrigerator occasionally.
3) Make A Plan to Cook Your Tempeh
No schematics or schedules needed, but do give some thought about when you will cook your tempeh. If you plan to use your tempeh within the week, refrigerate it. If stored properly, your tempeh should last 2-3 weeks in your refrigerator. If you won’t use your tempeh for several days, or you’re unsure yet, we recommend putting your tempeh in the freezer. Once stored in the freezer the tempeh can safely last for at least a month, often longer.
4) Store Tempeh Dry & Air Tight
Your tempeh is very much alive. When fermenting the tempeh, it is usually warm to the touch as the mold mycelium grows around the bean, connecting them. This process is amazing because it helps to break down the soybeans, meaning there’s less work for our bodies to do during digestion and the nutrients in the beans are more accessible.
However, if we neglect to store our tempeh thoughtfully it will continue to ferment. This is the reason that your refrigerator-stored tempeh continues to yellow. To slow the fermentation process, use a resealable bag or air-tight container to store your tempeh. Making sure the tempeh is dry, air-tight, and cool. These steps will help extend the shelf life of this important vegan protein.
5) Know the Signs of Spoilage
Finally, you should know the warning signs of tempeh that has begun to spoil. If your tempeh begins to get slimy or has a strong smell, this is a signal to your nose that it should not be eaten. While tempeh that has yellowed is still edible, you can also cut into the tempeh to be sure there is no mold inside. While some dark spots of mold are normal and edible, brightly colored or strong smelling mold means you should discard your tempeh.
The Thai new year is a holiday is one where we’re enjoying not being in the kitchen! This doesn’t mean that we’re not thinking about food, in particular new additions and upgrades to our vegan menu.
When the pandemic began last year, it was during the holiday that we decided to try our hand at selling vegan food. We didn’t know what to do, but tourism had come to a screeshing halt. What was clear, was that if possible we wanted to continue to employ our staff and help communities in need.
Today we do this by offering virtual cooking classes to people around the world, and a plant based delivery service to Bangkok locals. We started with selling meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh, kitchen staples for vegans and vegetarians. However, not long after we introduced food menu that people could pre-order from, that started with about 7 dishes and has no expanded to 20+ items.
The menu is plant based, vegan, and strives to be clean. That means there’s no meat products, no white sugar, and lots of oil-free options. Need an example? Try cooking the chickpea salad from our menu with using the recipe we recently shared.
BBQ “Pulled Jackfruit” Sandwich
This vegan pulled pork sandwich is one of the recent additions to the menu. To create it we source organic, juvenile jackfruit, which is in season right now, and stew it until tender. We originally served this on a burger bun, but the sweet and spicy bbq sauce that coats the pulled jackfruit demanded bread that holds up better.
Going forward, you’ll find that when you order this sandwich, it’s now served on a baguette that is plenty crispy when toasted. This is seemingly a small change, but adds so much texture and portability to this beloved menu item.
Nam Prik Ong, the Northern Thai Chili Dip
Northern Thai food isn’t a cuisine that makes cooking plant based easy. Many of the dishes derive their delicious flavor from the inclusion of meat, especially pork. This includes foods like nam prik ong, a sweet-salty chili dip with a spicy kick.
Like the rest of the genre of chili dips in Thailand, you typically enjoy nam prik ong with a platter of vegetables. The amount of blanched and raw vegetables included is usually so large that it dwarfs the size of dip with generous bunches of local leaves, crispy vegetables and fresh herbs. However as these dips drift away from their humble beginnings and into mainstream view, the amount of accompanying vegetables shrinks, with some even being replaced by fried meats.
We’d encourage you to enjoy this dish traditionally with a flurry of healthy local veg. Our version is made with plant meat so you can enjoy it regularly, and don’t have the worry that the vegan version has any less flavor or spice than what meat eater’s enjoy.
Vegan Burger Patties
An addition to our staples menu, we introduced vegan burger patties to offer a meat alternative that was more familiar than tofu and tempeh. The patties combined chickpeas and soy pulp (okara) with a mix of herbs and spices to make them flavorful and filling. However they were a lot of work to create and from our original vegan sliders, to the substantially larger final patty prototype there was a complete transformation.
We’re proud of what we created last year, but we’ve now simplified the recipe and given the burgers an upgrade that improves the texture. To do this, we’ve combined them with the product of a local plant based meat company called More Meat. The product is locally produced, uses few additives, and the resulting patty is easier to cook.
That’s not all, these better tasting burgers hold up to more pressure when eating. They don’t go crumbly and retain some moisture inside so they’re juicy too. In fact, the firmness that the plant meat adds has allowed us to ditch their plastic packaging, and send them to customers wrapped in banana leaf.
Thank for reading. For more information on our plant based, vegan delivery service in Bangkok, find the full menu here.
As we approach a year since our plant based and vegan delivery service began in Bangkok, we’re sharing our recipe for chickpea salad. This simple dish has been one of the most popular recipes this past tumultuous year.
We hope this filling, oil-free, and healthy dish will also become a staple in your kitchen as well. The recipe is great for people with dietary restrictions, can be used as an appetizer, and versatile enough to include other vegetables you may have on hand.
Remember if you find this recipe helpful to consider making a donation to Courageous Kitchen. For our friends and fans Bangkok based, you can order this dish from our menu, where you can also find our delivery schedule and other details.
Today’s recipe share is a tribute to my grandparents for Black History Month. In memoriam we’ll be getting into the kitchen to make a dish called creamed corn. This staple side in southern cuisine is something you might find on the dining room table at family gatherings, or as a side at a favorite bbq joint. Today’s version though, brings Thai flavors to this dish and has been written to make it easily repeatable at home.
There’s so much Black History to share this month and always. And yes it’s important to know the most famous events and people, but learning the history of people you know can help make the month more meaningful. So I’m honored to share a little about my grandparents, whose shoulders I stand on today.
In particular, my maternal grandfather, whose cast iron pan never moved far from the stovetop. His name was Harold Dunson, but people knew him as ‘The Vegetable Man’. After working for US Steel in Birmingham, Alabama for 35 years, he retired but never quit working. Instead, he started a small business delivering vegetables on the west side of Birmingham for decades.
Some of my most vivid memories of my grandfather were of him waking early, likely 4 or 5am, to get a jump on the bunches of collard and turnip greens he would slice and prep for his customers. He powered through with hot coffee and the help of his favorite prep knife, that had been repeatedly wrapped in worn masking tape to make it easier to handle.
When daybreak came, he’d already have breakfast on the stove by the time my sister and I woke up. The long day’s work required hearty morning staples like biscuits, grits, bacon, and fried fish. After all, he was delivering to Black neighborhoods long underserved by grocery stores. He provided senior citizens with limited mobility to have access to fresh vegetables and fruit by bringing them to their doorstep and allowing those with limited finances to buy ‘a dolla‘ of this and that from the back of his truck. All of this happened long before we invented the term food desert, in swaths of Birmingham with more liquor stores and fast food than anything else.
Now Mr. Dunson may not appear in your history books, but I can’t help but summon him in my work today. Even though I live half a world away from where he spent most of his life, his compassion for people and his quiet perseverance to serve them into his early eighties still inspires me.
In remembrance of this hero, I’d like to share a dish from his cast iron pan called creamed corn. This isn’t the dairy and bacon grease laden recipe you will find on websites dedicated to southern and soul food. That’s no discredit to soul food, but having the traditional version too often can be unhealthy. Instead, I’m making a Thai style creamed corn with fresh aromatics, grilled or roasted corn, creamy coconut milk, and a bit of spice. The resulting dish should be smoky and creamy, sweet from your corn and coconut milk, and pack a mild spice kick.
I hope you’ll join me in sharing this recipe, and reflecting on where Black History has brought us today as a society, and in our individual lives.
The recipe is below, happy cooking and special thanks to the US Embassy in Bangkok for helping highlight this story and recipe with a video and Thai language recipe cards.
Thai Style Creamed Corn
This recipe serves 1 person or can be shared as a side dish. The recipe can be made oil free, gluten free, and vegan if desired.
Optional utensils include mortar and pestle, and non stick frying pan or wok.
200g Corn (about 1 cup, optionally grill and cut off the cob for extra flavor)
100ml Coconut milk
Oil for cooking (optional, since the coconut milk is rich in healthy fats/oil)
Here’s a few scenes from a big weekend in Bangkok for the Courageous Kitchen team. For the first time, we’re popping up to serve a menu all of our own creation in a local restaurant. The menu is a testament to healthy eating, sustainability, and rustic Thai food. We couldn’t be more proud to have our student leaders participating and to share this event with you.
The Courageous Kitchen leadership program gives students opportunities to grow as cooks and as well balanced young people. Although the coronavirus has limited our activities this year, this month has been busy. With the Thai vegetarian festival happening, we took our young leaders into the combonation restaurant of Bolan and Err, to serve our own plant based menu.
During the pandemic we have been taking our healthy cooking to the next level, even launching a delivery service for plant based vegan food. So were please to be able to collaborate with the rustic cooking of the team behind Bolan and Err. The invitation from Chef Bo and Dylan gives our students a unique opportunity to see behinds the scenes, in not one, but two restaurants. In addition to having a hand in making dishes from Err, which specializes in elevated Thai drinking food, our students all get their first peek at fine dining dishes from Bolan.
The collab features two plant based set menus, one from Central Thailand and the other from Southern Thailand. Both sets feature our homemade soybean products, tempeh and tofu.
“The guests really loved your fried tempeh dish, now I want to taste!” remarked one of the waiters from Err. The dish they’re referring to is a special Phuket style fried curry paste and crispies piled on top of battered tempeh. The dish is called ‘tempeh tod kreung’ and the crunchy tempeh is a good match for the spicy and sweet paste.
The most popular dish from the Central Thailand set is the red curry or ‘gaeng daeng tempeh’. While you can experience a Thai red curry at any Thai restaurant, this dish is special because of the curry paste is handmade, and the ingredients in the curry are representative of Thai biodiversity.
“When we talk about plant based food, many enthusiasts do make a point to eat locally and in season. This is similar to many of the teachings we hear from Chef Bo, whether in the restaurant or on her television show, she always uses her food to highlight the diversity of ingredients in Thai cuisine.”
In addition to the tempeh in the curry, there’s a trio of pea aubergines, winter melon and snake gourd. The latter two especially are often overlooked by restaurants, even though people at home in the provinces still grow and use these ingredients commonly in their cooking. Each of these ingredients are abundant during the rainy season, and because they all have a different texture, keep your tongue guessing with each bite of the curry.
We’re relishing the experience to serve our supporters in Bangkok this weekend and learn from great chefs. We hope to take what we’ve learned into future endeavors, whether in our cooking classes or other training aspects of our leadership program. Never before has the overlap between food and health been so important, and we hope to shepherd our communities here and online towards better wellness as we grow.
Special thanks to the the Bolan and Err chefs and staff, and we look forward to collaborating on special events with them again in the future.
This month we’re launching a new delivery menu for plant based food for our customers in Bangkok. The menu combines Thai dishes we love to make in our cooking classes with our favorite homemade meals. The menu is geared towards busy families who want to save time in the kitchen without compromising their diets.
The new menu is an opportunity to extend interest in healthy cooking to people who haven’t had a chance to join our cooking classes. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about plant based eating in the Thai community right now,” says Panisha Chanwilai, our vegan cooking teacher.
“But when people look for plant based recipes online, they might assume it’s all salads and pasta. I want Thais to be proud of our own cuisine, which can easily be made into healthy meals.”
For instance, this month one of the featured dishes is tom kha soup. Thai food fans may recognize this dish as the calmer little sister of spicy tom yum soup. The dish is a soup is composed of coconut milk, made fragrant with classic Thai aromatics like kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and galangal.
Besides the ingredients that make the dish tom kha, there’s a lot of flexibility to decide what else we would like to include. These variations are common to see from one Thai household to the next. One family may choose to include banana blossom, another prefers the soup with a variety of local mushroom, while still another adds extra chili jam to add heat and color.
Our version is made without any meat products, nor fish sauce. We also no longer use white sugar, and try to exclude oil in our recipes whenever possible. This addresses many of the common criticisms of trends in Thai food the last few decades, which can be oily, overly sweet, and scant on vegetables. However, when you have homemade Thai food, this isn’t always the case.
Ready to try food from Courageous Kitchen? In addition to the meals, customers can order our homemade tofu, tempeh, and other food products. Orders are placed by Thursday each week, and the food is delivered to people’s homes every Sunday in a refrigerated truck. As always, proceeds from the sales will help us continue our mission to feed and educate during these uncertain times.