April 11, 2012

Tempeh with Chestnuts and Persimmons

We Nordic people seem to be naturally drawn to foraging, especially in autumn, when the forests are full of wild berries and mushrooms for everyone to pick for free. Here in Australia I haven't been able to do such foraging, but thankfully Pick-Your-Own farms provide some consolation for my hankering.

This past weekend we revisited the same farm where we picked chestnuts last year. We drove two and a half hours from our home in Sydney's Northern beaches to the Blue Mountains area North-West of Sydney. Fortunately we arrived early enough to avoid the crowds and found enough nuts still available. We spent a good couple of hours picking walnuts and chestnuts and I couldn't have been happier with our haul. I now have a few kilos of both ingredients to use up so brace yourself for some serious chestnut and walnut recipes to come!

This dish combines another autumn favourite of mine - persimmon, which I already used in my previous recipe. Persimmon really gives this dish a lovely sweetness, but you could easily use apples or pears as well. Chestnuts are replacing grains in this recipe and tempeh of course brings in a good amount of protein. Simple flavouring of tamari and lime juice is enough to balance the flavours.

Tempeh with Chestnuts and Persimmons
(serves 2)

300g organic tempeh
about 15 chestnuts
2 persimmons
2 green shallots/green onions
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1/2 lime, juiced
freshly ground black pepper
fresh chives

1. Rinse the chestnuts and put them in a saucepan. Cover the chestnuts with water and bring the water to boil. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, and then turn off the heat and drain. Fill the saucepan with warm water, leaving the chestnuts in the water. Using a tea towel to hold the chestnut and a sharp knife to peel with, remove the skins of the chestnuts. I find it easier to peel the skins when the chestnuts are warm and wet, so try to work quite quickly. Set the peeled chestnuts aside.

2. Cut the tempeh into big chunks and steam for 5 minutes. 

3. Heat oil in a frying pan and crumble in the tempeh chunks. Roughly chop the chestnuts and add them on to the pan. Add peeled and sliced persimmons, finely chopped green shallots, and season the mixture with tamari, lime and black pepper. Cook for a few minutes, then spoon into serving bowls and top with finely chopped fresh chives. Serve warm.