Southern blackened tempeh with tomato-apricot-ginger coulis

June 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Ron Pickarski, Tempeh)

This recipe is also from Friendly Foods, but from the last chapter—recipes that won medals in the Culinary Olympics.  I decided to make it because it called for soysage, which I was trying to figure out what to do with.  Pickarski says that if you don’t have soysage on hand you can use Fantastic Foods instant black bean mix instead.  I imagine homemade refried black beans would also work.


  • 1 cup soysage
  • two 8-ounce pieces of tempeh
  • 2 Tbs. cajun spice mixture (commercial)
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 2 Tbs. tamari
  • 1 Tbs. Sucanat
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • one recipe Tomato-Apricot-Ginger Coulis


  1. Slice each piece of tempeh in half.  Then prepare to stuff the tempeh by making a cut along the length of each piece of tempeh, keeping the edges intact.  Gently open and fill the tempeh, using 1/4 cup of the bean mixture for each piece.  Press the tempeh closed and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cajun spices with 2 Tbs. of water, the tamari, and the Sucanat.  Brush the mixture on both sides of each piece of tempeh.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the tempeh on both sides until brown (about 1 minute on each side.)  Place the browned tempeh in a baking dish.  Bake, covered, in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes.   Serve immediately with the coulis or other sauce.

Ingredients for Tomato-Apricot-Ginger Coulis

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 5 medium fresh apricots
  • 2 Tbs. minced onions or shallots
  • 2 Tbs. Sucanat
  • 2 Tbs. white wine
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/3 tsp. ginger powder


  1. Blanch, peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes.  (You should end up with 1 cup of tomatoes.)
  2. Cut the apricots into small pieces.  Place them in a saucepan with the tomatoes and other ingredients and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one half (about 20 minutes).  Serve this sauce hot or cold.

Note:  Pickarski says you can use canned apricots instead of the fresh fruits.  Use 10 small canned apricot halves (canned in fruit juice not syrup), but reduce the sugar to 1 Tbs.

Serves 4

My notes:

My cajun spice mix was from Penzey’s, and smelled mostly of celery.  It didn’t seem that appetizing to me, but I figured I’d follow the recipe.

I used one 14 ounce piece of (fat) tempeh.  I cut it in half and then tried to slice each half as instructed, to make a kind of pocket, but failed.  When I put in the soysage it immediately cracked through and turned into more of a tempeh/soysage sandwich rather than stuffed tempeh.  It didn’t seem to matter though.  My tempeh is quite a bit fatter than American tempeh, which I didn’t think about.  I should have tried to slice my tempeh into four thinner slices, then made a sandwich out of those.  My sandwiches were extremely fat.  Thus when trying to pan-fry the tempeh it just browned a little on the very outside but I was worried that the rest of the tempeh wasn’t cooked through.  So I left it in the pan a lot longer than the instructions say to (maybe 10 minutes instead of 1?).  Still my tempeh never really “blackened”.   As it was cooking I kept painting on more and more of the cajun oil mixture, trying to use it all up.  The original brush job used up only a small fraction of the mixture, maybe because my tempeh was so fat and had so little surface area.  I also baked the tempeh longer than the recipe instructs, to make sure that the tempeh was cooked through.

For the coulis I used 1 cup of diced, canned tomatoes, and some not-very-ripe apricots.  To compensate for the sour apricots I added a bit more sugar.  I tasted it when it was done and it tasted good but I couldn’t really taste the ginger at all.  So I minced up some fresh ginger and threw it in.  It didn’t really cook though, so the coulis ended up with small pieces of raw ginger in it.  They didn’t bother me though–I thought they gave the coulis a nice, intense, sharp ginger taste.

The final dish didn’t look very good.  It was two, big unwieldy pieces of tempeh stuffed with beige, mushy soysage.  But it tasted really good!  Both Derek and I thought the cajun spices were tasty and the tomato/apricot coulis complemented the flavors really well.  Derek kept saying how it tasted like something familiar, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.  He said it tasted vaguely Mexican.  I didn’t get the Mexican association, but I’d definitely make this again, just cutting the tempeh thinner next time, and using seasoned, mashed black beans instead of soysage.  (Tempeh and soysage seems like overload on the soy front.)

Rating: B+

Note: A few hours after we ate this for dinner I started getting terrible abdominal cramps–the worst abdominal cramping I’ve ever had in my life.  The cramping lasted for several hours.  Derek was fine though, so I imagine the pain had nothing to do with the recipe.  Still, I don’t think I’ll make this again for quite a while, til the association between cajun blackened tempeh and some of the most uncomfortable few hours in my life begins to fade from memory.


  1. Joel said,

    I’ve been cooking vegetarian-esque for a while now, as my wife prefers to eat vegetables, mostly. I have by and large found most tofu recipes to be mediocre (phad thai, which is not vegetarian due to the fish oil, excepted) and seitan to be absolutely vile. My favorite vegetarian food is chard tacos with chipotle salsa, basically a combination recipe from rick bayless (i omit the lard) / jack bishop (his recipe is for burritos). However, I ate at Native Foods recently and found their meat-substitute chicken (the chicken run ranch chicken) to be incredible. Better than most chicken sandwiches, nevermind meat substitute. I’ve been trying to emulate it ever since. However, no success.

    I picked up Tanya Petrovna’s cookbook but found very little knowledge about how to replicate this recipe. I’ve been scouring blogs but found much of the same. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this. Any chance you’ve stumbled on such a recipe?

    • captious said,

      I’ve never heard of Native Foods but I looked it up and it appears to be a restaurant? They have a cookbook on Amazon. Have you looked for the recipe there?

      And I find it pretty funny that you’ve written that you find most tofu recipes to be mediocre. Have you actually tried any of the tofu recipes on this blog?

      • Joel said,

        That’s the second thing! I’m going to give it a shot. I’m a little scared by the dearth of A’s, though. Must be a tough grader!

        As for the cookbook; that’s the one I’m looking at right now. No luck there. I suppose it’s not a huge surprise, if the “tchicken” is some sort of trade secret or something. I could just ask the people working there, I suppose.

  2. austingardener said,

    I have eaten in Native Foods Restuarant with my sister in southern California. I bought the cookbook at Half Price and I believe Hanaleah took it home with her.

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