I never really post tempeh recipes on here because to be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of tempeh. Yes, I, the girl who would live off of Bloomer’s tempeh reuben sandwich if she could, think that tempeh can be kind of blah. And that, I will fully chalk up to me not being that great at cooking tempeh. Also? Tofu is cheaper.
But sometimes you’re in Noah’s and you see a nice brick of tempeh on sale for just over half of what you’d normally pay for it and that fermented bean cake is lookin’ pretty good to you, isn’t it?
I’d been looking to create some sort of nugget recipe for a while. Everyone is doing cauliflower nuggets/wings these days (side-note: whenever I see cauliflower wings on those silly social recipe videos with the word “plant-based” in the title and they’re covered in eggs, honey and melted butter I can’t help but wonder what people think a plant is). And frankly, I prefer tofu on its own without a crispy coating. So when fate brought me to those tempeh nuggets, I just had to.
Nugget/wing recipes are really interesting because a lot of people seem to struggle with a direct replacement for an egg wash. I’ve used a flax/chia egg before but I dislike this method — it creates too much waste with the seeds, and frankly I find the flax leaves an after taste. But I did find success using aquafaba/chickpea brine. No flour before, just chickpea brine and the coating. Some people have said reducing the chickpea brine a little bit will make it more egg-like, but I found it fine straight out of the can.
Now, I can’t just post a nugget recipe without a dipping sauce (though for what it’s worth, I was one of those a-hole kids who ate their nuggets with ketchup). I could have gone sweet and sour, or maybe barbecue sauce, but I was overcome with this need to bring myself back to a simpler time: 1998. McDonalds and Disney ran this promotion for the movie Mulan and offered a Szechuan-inspired dipping sauce. So that’s what I did. Because that’s what this is all about, Morty. That’s my one-armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family, Morty. That was fake. I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. I want that Mulan McNugget sauce, Morty. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes nine season. I want that McNugget dipping sauce — Szechuan sauce, Morty. That’s what’s going to take us all the way to the end, Morty. Season — nine more seasons. Nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce. For ninety-seven more years, Morty. I want that McNugget sauce, Morty.
Easy tempeh nuggets with Szechuan sauce
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 20 nuggets, Morty (about two hearty dinners and one lunch).
Allergen info: Nut-free, refined sugar free, gluten-free option, soy-free option
Kitchen tools required: Baking sheet, mixing bowls, knives and cutting board, immersion blender or stand-up blender
- One 8-oz block of tempeh
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) aquafaba (chickpea brine)
- Scant 60 ml (1/4 cup) panko bread crumbs
- 15-30 ml (1-2 tbsp) nutritional yeast
- 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) garlic powder
- 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Light-tasting, spray cooking oil (we use avocado oil)
- 4-5 red chilli peppers, seeded (unless you have a dangerous streak) and chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) brown rice syrup
- 45 ml (3 tbsp) liquid aminos (soy sauce, tamari, Braggs, etc.)
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) rice vinegar
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) coconut sugar
- 2.5 ml ground cloves
- 7.5-15 ml (1/2-1 tbsp) olive oil
* For a soy-free tempeh option, there are soy-free tempehs available at some specialty stores that use chickpeas, black beans and other legumes. You can also use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce/tamari.
** You can use pre-made gluten-free bread crumbs if necessary, or even crushed crispy rice cereal.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix your bread crumbs, nooch, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Chop your tempeh block into about 20 small “nuggets.”
- Dip the tempeh in the aquafaba and then toss into the batter. Place each on the baking sheet.
- Before cooking, spray very lightly with a light-tasting oil.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 425.
- After 10 minutes, reduce to 375 and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Make the Szechuan sauce, Morty: Chop the garlic, ginger and peppers (you don’t have to go super-fine since we’re blending here. Add in the syrup, liquid aminos, vinegar, sugar and cloves. Take an immersion blender to it (you can use a stand-up blender but because of the amount, it’s way more efficient to use an immersion blender) and gradually add in the oil as needed.
- Enjoy the nuggets on your inter-dimensional adventures through infinite timelines with your crazy grandfather. And remember, as Tiny Rogers said, blop blop a noop noop, a noop noop noop.