Their texture is more like rice gnocchi than rice dumplings or rice cakes. And their flavor is concentrated like nothing else - if you use jasmine rice you really do taste jasmine. This recipe is from the Dumpling book, and even though I wasn’t a fan of the Indian stew they made these with, the dumpling recipe was spot on. I have some plans to make these italianish sometime soon, but for now, here’s a nice red curry, based on one I found in David Thompson’s uncompromising book: Thai Food. In this picture, I used Chinese black rice, which has it’s own unique flavor. And although I used a perfectly ripe hachiya persimmon - a fuyu one or pineapple chunks or pomegranate seeds would also work.
This dish takes a pan, a pot, a cutting board, knife, and an hour, 35 minutes of which you can spend playing with your cat while everything‘s cooking. It’s my go-to dish that I don’t have to think about. You can substitute any kind of onions for the leeks, other herbs for the thyme and bay leaf, any pink or red wine, any mushrooms, even other root vegetables for the carrots if you‘re daring. Either way it’s called braising - to sear, then cook through in simmering liquid. Like sex, tempeh is only gross if you do it wrong and most people do it wrong. But if you insist, seitan works just fine. And if you think Italian food demands tomatoes - this is just one small but delicious part of what you’ve been missing. This kind of dish has innumerable ways to be refined and I would if I were to serve it at a restaurant - strain and reduce the sauce, add some roasted nuts and fresh herbs at the end, put a light and peppery salad on top, make the orechiette myself and maybe flavor it with cocoa or toasted flour, etc. but this here is a good, filling, comforting, and ridiculously delicious dish any time of year. And it lends itself to freezing so make a shit-ton.
Ingredients: ¾ cup dried porcinis2 t coriander seeds2 t mustard seeds3 small carrots, cut into ¼ in rounds4 small leeks, cut into ¼ inch lengths8oz tempeh – cut into 3/4 inch cubes6 bay leaves¼ bunch fresh thyme (10 sprigs-ish)1/4 cup red wine vinegar3 cups of dry red wine 2 cups orechietteOlive oilSalt
Set your wine in a small pot and cook it over a medium flame until it’s reduced by half, about 15 minutes. While that’s cooking, gather two containers that fit inside each other, like two of the same kind of bowl, or two deli cups. Put your mushrooms in one. Rehydrate your mushrooms by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, adding ½ t of salt, and then pouring over your mushrooms. Cover with the second container so that the mushrooms are fully submerged. Let sit for 10 minutes while you cut up your tempeh and vegetables. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Cook for 30 seconds, rolling the seeds around, till the mustard seeds start to pop. Turn the heat up to high. Add the carrots, leeks, and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high heat, stirring every 2 minutes or so until the vegetables get good and seared. Pile up your veg over in one small area of the pan. Now replenish your oil so it coats the bottom of the pan and then some, and add your tempeh cubes. Spread them out into one layer and season with salt and pepper. As they get brown on the bottom, begin turning them one by one with a spoon or your fingers. Brown them on at least two sides but for the best results, do all six sides. While the tempeh is browning, move your vegetables around a little so that nothing gets burnt, but just know that since they’re in a small pile they’re cooking slower than the tempeh. When you’re done that, add your thyme and bay leaf. Cook for 30 seconds. Add your vinegar, bring it to a boil and cook for a minute. Add your wine, if using. Add 1 cup water and the reserved liquid from the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. When the liquid is boiling, turn the heat down as low as possible. Put up a large pot of very salty water to boil. Leave your kitchen for 20 minutes. Return. Drop your orrechiette in the boiling salted water. Leave your kitchen for another 10 minutes. When you return, check the pasta and drain it when it’s done. If there is very little liquid left in the tempeh pan, add some water. If there is still a lot of liquid left, raise your heat. You want about a quarter inch of liquid in the pan - thicker than water and full of flavor. When it is of desired consistency, season the liquid - your sauce - to taste with salt and pepper. If you’re freezing some or all of it, put that portion aside, let cool and freeze. If you’re serving it immediately, add your pasta to the skillet and combine. Scoop into pasta bowls and serve.