Friday, January 11, 2013

Beer Battered Tempeh "Fish" Sandwiches with Vegan Tartar Sauce

This recipe is my virgin voyage into the world of deep frying. I don't think I'll make a habit of it since it's not good for you, but for a special treat once or twice a year this is a fantastic sandwich. It's so good, in fact, that I would pay money for this in a restaurant. Besides, just one sandwich and I was full for the night!

In addition to the high fat issue, I have avoided deep frying because it always seemed like a huge hassle. Most recipes have you heating about 3 cups of oil in a huge pot and using a thermometer to track the temperature of the oil. Since this recipe only makes 4 patties I decided to use a small (heavy bottomed) pot with about 1 cup of oil and then just fry them one a a time. I tested the heat of the oil by placing the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, once bubbles form around the submerged handle the oil is ready. Those techniques made this recipe surprisingly easy.


For the Tartar Sauce
1 c. veganaise or other vegan mayonaise
1 medium shallot, finely minced (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 dill pickle, finely minced
8 green olives, finely minced (you can remove those gross red things in the middle if they disgust you like they do me)
A dash each of cayenne and black pepper
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1 wedge)
1 tsp. malt vinegar

1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a  small bowl and set aside.

For the Beer Batter
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dash of cayenne to taste
8 oz. beer, pale ale or pilsner both work well
2 Tbsp. malt vinegar
1 tsp. agave nectar or pure maple syrup

1. Place the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and then add the wet ingredients and stir to mix. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Sandwiches
1 16 oz. package of tempeh (try to get a brand that comes in a long rectangular shape rather than a fat square)
1 - 1 1/2 c. high heat oil such as canola or peanut (the amount depends on the size of your pot, you want it do be about 1 1/2 inches deep)
4 large rolls (we used home made sourdough rye rolls)
Lettuce, tomatoes, sliced onions or other garnishes as desired

1. Slice the tempeh half width wise into two squares and then cut each half down the center (like you're cutting a piece of bread off of a loaf) to make two thin square patties.


2. Prepare your rolls and garnishes and set them aside until you're ready to assemble the sandwiches.

To Cook and Assemble the Sandwiches:

1. Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Once you hear the oil start to crackle just a tiny bit, or you see it rippling, dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the bottom of the pot. If little bubbles form around the handle, turn the heat down just a bit and begin to fry.

2) Dip 1 tempeh patty into your batter and coat it well. Scrape some of the excess off, but it's okay if it's pretty saturated with the batter. Carefully lower the patty into the oil with a pair of tongs, it should begin bubbling immediately - your oil should only appear to "boil" when a patty is in the oil, when you take the patty out it should not be boiling. If the oil boils when there is nothing in it, turn the heat down. Let the patty cook for 2 minutes, then flip it with your tongs and let it cook for another 2 minutes.


3) After the first patty is done, remove it from the oil with your tongs and place it on a plate lined generously with paper towels. Repeat the frying process for the 3 remaining patties.

4) When your patties are done frying, put about 1-2 Tbsp. of the tartar sauce on both the top and bottom of your rolls. Place lettuce on the bottom bun, place the "fish" patty over the lettuce and add any additional garnishes over the tempeh. Place the top of the roll over the sandwich and secure with a tooth pick or a similar device.

This makes 4 servings. Option: if you would rather have "fish sticks" (like the photo to the right) you could leave out the bun and just slice the tempeh into stick shapes, batter and fry it, and then dip it in the tarter sauce.

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