Friday, May 9, 2014

Tempeh Musubi with Purple Sticky Rice

My friend Rosie is vacationing in Hawaii right now and posted a photo on her Instagram page of a delicious looking tempeh musubi that she got at Peace Cafe in Honolulu.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to re-create it.  :)  I previously posted a tofu katsu musubi recipe that I thought was pretty tasty. But what caught my attention with Peace Cafe's musubi was the use of purple rice.  I'm a little obsessed with purple food. Fact. Plus, the tempeh looked like it was seasoned to perfection.  With just the photo to go by, this is what I came up with:

I used Rhizocali tempeh, which is also something that Rosie got me hooked on. It's organic tempeh made locally in Oakland.  Best. Tempeh.  Ever.  It has a moist, tender texture and fresh taste that I haven't found in other store-bought brands of tempeh. If you live in the Bay Area, Rhizocali tempeh is available at Mandela Market Place in Oakland, Republic of V in Berkeley, and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.  If you see it, stock up!

For added flavor, I simmered the tempeh in vegetable broth prior to glazing it with a teriyaki/Worcestershire sauce mixture.  You can use any sauce flavoring that you like...miso, sriracha, tamari, etc.  I just added the Worcestershire sauce because I thought my store-bought teriyaki sauce was a little too sweet.

For the rice, I used Alter Eco's purple sticky rice.  It's an heirloom medley of purple and white rice, so prior to cooking it looks like the photo below. But once cooked, all the grains become a beautiful shade of purple. If you can't find purple sticky rice, regular sushi rice or short grain brown rice would be just as good.

Makes 4 pieces

1 cup uncooked purple sticky rice
1 package of tempeh
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (store-bought or homemade; I used Organicville)
1-2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (I used Annie's)
1 nori seaweed sheet, cut into 4 strips
Furikake rice seasoning
Special equipment:  musubi mold (optional)
  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
  2. While the rice is cooking, cut the tempeh into rectangles.  If using a musubi mold, cut the tempeh into rectangles that match the shape of the mold.  (I was able to get 4 standard musubi-sized rectangles out of 1 package of Rhizocali tempeh)
  3. Combine the teriyaki sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Add more teriyaki sauce or more Worcestershire sauce, as desired.  Set aside.
  4. Place the tempeh pieces in a skillet.  Add the vegetable broth and simmer over medium heat until all the broth is absorbed.
  5. Add the oil and fry the tempeh on each side until lightly browned.
  6. Using a pastry brush or spoon, glaze the tempeh on both sides and all edges with the sauce.  Continue to simmer the tempeh in the sauce. (about 2-3 minutes on each side)
  7. Transfer the tempeh to a plate.  
  8. Check if the rice is done.  The rice should still be warm when assembling the musubi.  Have a wet towel around to wipe your hands since the rice will be sticky during musubi assembly.
Assembly: (using a musubi mold)
  1. Place a nori strip on a large plate or cutting board.  
  2. Lay the musubi mold base on top of the nori strip. (perpendicular)
  3. Place a piece of tempeh in the musubi base.
  4. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning.
  5. Next, add a layer of warm rice over the tempeh.
  6. Place the musubi top over the rice and press down. Remove the base by lifting it up while still pressing the top downward.  Then twist and slide the top off of the rice layer while gently pressing downward.
  7. Wrap the nori strip around the tempeh and rice.  Place seam-side down on a plate.  
  8. Repeat these steps with the remaining tempeh pieces.
  9. Sprinkle the finished musubi pieces with furikake seasoning.
If you don't have a musubi mold, you can just mold the rice into a rectangle using your hands.  I've never made musubi without a handy little mold, so I can't speak to how easy or hard it is to make musubi without one.  I guess it's not difficult, just a little bit messier. The musubi mold produces uniform pieces with nice straight edges and is also good to have if you're making a TON of musubi pieces, but it's not absolutely necessary. I saw an online tutorial where a cut out paper box was used as a mold.  And since musubi is usually made with Spam, many people also use the empty Spam can as a DIY mold. (...but Spam isn't an option here, natch!)

I thought this musubi was delicious. I love anything with furikake seasoning, so maybe I'm biased.  I can't say purple sticky rice tastes all that different from regular white sticky rice, but this was a beautiful purple feast for my eyes. I'd love to visit Peace Cafe one day and try their tempeh musubi.  In the meantime, I think I can get by with this version.  It'll be hard, but I'll try!  :)