by Davina Goh
Quite recently, I watched a vegan cooking video on Youtube. The chef was making a burger. Just as she began to prepare the condiments to go with the patty, she confidently said, “One of a vegan’s most favourite things is sauce.”
That line has resonated with me since. It encapsulates, in a simple sentence, the one thing that I believe will encourage all of us to try out more plant-based food.
Growing up as a meat-eater, I remember having so many delectable sauces with my meats. Butter Sauce Chicken. Assam Fish. Garlic Mushroom Steak. Sauce changes the game completely. Now as a vegan, I’ve thought to myself… There must be ways to keep sauces relevant to a plant-based palate too, but what can they possibly be cooked with?
Being one of the highest sources of plant-based protein there is (it consists of 20 percent protein), I feel extremely blessed to be a vegan in a country where tempeh is abundantly available, stocked fresh, and cheap as chips. Plus, with its chunky, hearty texture, tempeh has been the perfect meat substitute for me to experiment with when it comes to sauces.
To celebrate the Holy month of Ramadan, here’s a recipe with a dry rendang sauce – one of my favourite tastes from Malay cuisine. I’ve made my dish non-spicy to accommodate children and those with sensitive tummies, but fresh or re-hydrated dry chillis can always be added to the pulse mix. To make it a meal, this rendang can be enjoyed with a steaming hot plate of brown or red rice to boost the nutritional factor.
Wishing all of my Muslim friends a mindful, health-full Ramadan.
MILD TEMPEH RENDANG
Time needed: 45 minutes (1 hour including prep time)
2 cups of tempeh (or 2 square transparent packets), diced into 2cm cubes
2 cups of potatoes (from two medium-sized potatoes), diced into approx. 1.5cm cubes
1 cup fresh coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1 calamansi lime (limau kasturi)
4cm stalk of lemongrass (starting from white part)
1cm ginger stem
1.5cm galangal stem
5-6 garlic cloves
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp clove powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp brown sugar
Himalayan Pink Salt
In a dry wok, cook grated coconut for 5 minutes over a medium fire or until coconut starts to turn a golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Heat 5-6 tablespoon of cooking oil in the wok. Put in tempeh cubes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook over medium fire for 10 minutes or until tempeh starts to brown. Set aside together with grated coconut.
Boil potato cubes for 17-20 minutes or until soft. Drain water and set aside.
While waiting for potatoes to cook, cut Galangal finely. Pulse until fine, together with lemongrass, ginger, shallots and garlic.
Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok and cook pulsed mixture with turmeric, clove powder and cinnamon stick for 3 minutes.
Add coconut milk, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of pink salt and juice of calamansi lime. Stir occasionally over medium fire for 5-7 minutes.
Add potato cubes, tempeh and grated coconut and stir until even.
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