Sesame Panko Tempeh Cutlets
Serves 2 really hungry tonkatsu fans, or 4 with served with Pumpkin Panko Cutlets
Marinated tempeh is jacketed in crunchy panko and sesame, then baked in the oven; served with savory sweet homemade tonkatsu sauce and crunchy shredded cabbage it’s a meal that’s at once light and comforting. To stretch the servings to enough to feed four, prepare and baked Pumpkin Potato Patties alongside the tempeh.
Tip: Use a pastry brush can stand in for cooking spray; dip the ends of the brush into oil. Hover the ends of the brush no less than 3 inches above the intended target and gently flick oil over the surface as desired.
Tip: It’s important to shred the cabbage as fine as possible. A mandoline does this best; look in Japanese or Asian markets for inexpensive plastic mandolines for quick shredding jobs. But, be careful not to be too quick when using a mandoline; they are very sharp and should be handled with respect!
8 ounce rectangular cake of tempeh
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1 teaspoon crushed garlic or 1 clove pressed/finely minced garlic
4 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Cooking oil spray
3 cups very finely shredded green cabbage
2 scallions, sliced very thin
1. Slice tempeh cake in half, then slice each piece horizontally. In a small pot bring about 2 cups of cold water to a rolling boil; gently slide tempeh and cook for 5 minutes. While that’s going on, in a shallow baking dish whisk together marinade ingredients. Remove tempeh from the water with long handled tongs, shake free any excess water and set down into marinade. Let stand for 20 minutes, turning tempeh occasionally to absorb as much marinade as possible.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In pie plate use a fork to whisk together soy milk, lemon juice, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons flour. In a large shallow bowl or large dinner plate pour panko crumbs and sesame seeds, then drizzle oil over crumbs; use your fingers to mix the oil into the crumbs. Form a panko-crusting assembly line with the panko closest to the baking sheet, then the soy milk batter and lastly the tempeh.
3. For each cutlet, gently lift from the pan and shake off any remaining marinade. Sprinkle a little of the remaining flour 2 tablespoons of flour over each side of the tempeh to help absorb some of moister, then with one hand dip into the soymilk batter and coat both sides. Drop into the panko crumbs, and with your other hand (the one not used to touch the soy milk batter), pile crumbs over the tempeh and carefully press in as much panko as possible all over the cutlet. Gently move to the baking sheet and spray generously with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining cutlets and bake for 15 minutes, then use a spatula to gently flip over the cutlets. Bake another 8-10 minutes until crumbs are golden.
4. To serve, use a spatula to slide a tempeh cutlet onto a cutting board. With a sharp heavy knife use a single downward motion (don’t saw back and forth, you’ll mess up the coating) and slice cutlets into narrow 1/2 inch wide slices. Slide the spatula under the sliced cutlet and slide onto a serving dish; arrange a mound of fluffy shredded cabbage next to the cutlet and sprinkle with scallions. Serve with a lemon wedge and a condiment dish of warm tonkatsu sauce.
How to eat tempeh tonkatsu? Squeeze the lemon wedge over the tempeh; use chopsticks to dip a tempeh strip into the sauce and occasionally nibble on cabbage threads to refresh the palate.