Prior to switching to a vegan diet I don't think I'd ever eaten a reuben in my life. Even as a child I didn't care for most meats and certainly not a big beefy sandwich with kraut, which I also didn't care for. After switching to a vegan diet I didn't really get into tempeh because it struck me as a "fake meat" substitute. Enter home made sour kraut, a little research on the origin of tempeh, and a husband who loved reubens.
Tempeh is a fermented soy bean or grain cake that originated in Indonesia and it is very high in vitamin B12. Here in the U.S. tempeh is pasteurized which kills all of the B12, but it's still a really cool food. It has a firm texture and takes on the flavors of any sauce or marinade used with it while still retaining it's own delicious flavor. It's easy to bake, saute and grill. To make a pleasurable vegan reuben I decided to brine the tempeh and make a home made vegan Russian dressing that negates the need for swiss cheese. I love this sandwich even though I never loved the original reuben, but the true testament to its deliciousness is my husband's preference for it.
For the brine:
8 oz. package of tempeh (try to get a cake that is a long rectangle rather than a square, if possible)
1 c. beer (any non-hoppy variety)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 1/4 Tbsp. sugar
For the Russian dressing:
1/2 c. veganaise
1 rib celery, minced
2 Tbsp. minced shallot (about 1 large)
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the sandwiches:
8 oz. brined tempeh
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. russian dressing
4 ciabatta rolls
1/2 to 1 c. sour kraut
1) Prepare the brine by whisking together the ingredients in a wide glass bowl to dissolve the salt and sugar and set aside.
2) Slice the tempeh in half width wise to make two squares. Then slice each square in half lengthwise through the center forming two flat squares (not two little fat rectangles). Place the tempeh in the brine and submerge by weighting it down with a small ceramic plate or bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to over night.
3) Prepare the Russian dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
4) Once the tempeh has been brined heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and saute the tempeh until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
5) To assemble the sandwiches, slice the ciabatta rolls in half and spread a layer of Russian dressing on each side. Lay the tempeh on the bottom half, top with sour kraut and secure the top of the roll in place with a toothpick.
This makes 4 sandwiches and is delicious when consumed with the same style of beer used to make the brine.