Here is all of the text for the Tempeh Reubens in one post for ease of reference:
Prior to giving up meat, my favorite sandwich was the Reuben. Made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, swiss cheese….yum.
Once I went meat-free (Hi, I’m Brad, I’m a vegetarian, and I’ve been meat free for 2+ years), I missed only two things: sushi and Reubens. I have since learned that it’s not really the fish in sushi that I liked, rather I loved the wasabi, soy, seaweed, and other flavors of sushi, so I find that I am just as sated from veggie sushi (sweet potato rolls FTW!) as I was from fish sushi. (Post of me making sushi to come in the future. No promises as to how soon, though.)
But still, those Reubens… I, from time to time, craved a Reuben. I had tried vegetarian Reubens at a few restaurants before, but never had one that was quite as good as the real thing. Then, somehow, I stumbled upon a recipe for Vegetarian Tempeh Reubens that flat out blew my mind.
I have, since the first time I made the recipe, modified it to my own tastes a bit more which has made this my favorite recipe, maybe ever. (Yeah, yeah, I say that a lot. I’ll keep saying it, I’m sure.)
The next few posts will describe the steps taken to make the perfect Tempeh Reuben. Tempeh, if you do not know, is a fermented soy bean food that is often used as a meat substitute, but gets a bad rap because it has some seriously good flavor of its own. (More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh) Tempeh typically comes in a long, flat patty/cake in the size of a King Sized Hershey’s cholocate bar. Fun fact, Tempeh was, traditionally, sold wrapped in banana leaves to give it its shape. I got mine at Trader Joe’s, wrapped in plastic (one of these days I’ll figure out how to eat plastic-free…)
So, to make the tempeh, you have to slice it thinly and then saute it on both sides. Tempeh browns nicely on its own, but, in the interest of giving these sandwiches some great flavor, that’s not all we’re going to do to them while in the pan.
To saute the tempeh, heat oil over medium in a pan (I like using steel pans, not tephlon coated pans). I prefer to use sesame oil for this particular recipe, but I’ve used olive, too, and it works just fine.
Once the tempeh is lightly browned on each side, you will add the “secret marinade/sauce.”
This is what your tempeh will look like after adding the sauce. Sauce ingredients:
– Soy sauce
– Brown sugar
– Garlic powder
– Onion powder
– Sesame oil
The sugar will caramelize and start to burn quickly, so you want to get this stuff in the pan, coat all of the tempeh, and then start getting it out of the pan as soon as it starts to reduce and get sticky. While removing from the pan, you will want to scrape the bottom with your spatula so that the tempeh has some of this sticky reduction on it. Trust me – the flavor is awesome once the sandwich is finished.
Set the cooked tempeh aside and get ready for the next step. Next, you’ll arrange your sandwiches to be toasted in the oven. Traditionally, (at least I think) Reuben’s are made with rye bread. I have made this recipe with rye, pumpernickel, and wheat bread. Just use a good bread (or make your own awesome bread!) and you’ll be fine.
Once your tempeh is golden-brown and has a bit of a crust (from the caramelizing of the brown sugar), get your bread ready on a baking sheet or pizza stone. I use a preheated pizza stone because it give a very nice crust on the outside of the bread. Sometimes, I’ll even toast the bread in the oven on both sides before assembling the tempeh and cheese.
The amount of cheese you use is up to you. I often put a piece of swiss on each piece of bread, but it’s totally up to you. Bake the un-assembled sandwiches in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes. You can do more or less, but you want the cheese to be melted.
After the sandwich halves have baked, add sauerkraut and russian dressing to the sandwich. I love sauerkraut and the dressing I make is pretty awesome, too. Use a bottled russian or 1000 island dressing if you prefer, but I like to make my own.
My russian dressing contains all or some of the following:
– Mayo/greek yogurt (whatever I have)
– Hot sauce
– Garlic powder
– Onion powder
– Whatever else I feel like using, just make it taste good.