For those of you who are not familiar with “jerk” seasoning, be assured that I do not mean rude and unreasonable. Though the word “jerk” in english may not be what we consider a normal way of describing a delicious meal, in terms of food, it describes a particular kind of spice rub native to Jamaica and possibly originating in Africa.
Recently, I had a jerk tempeh sandwich at a local cafe and was inspired to make one at home. Since going vegan, my love of tempeh has grown exponentially and I’m always trying to discover new ways to prepare this protein-rich food. I have never made anything like this before so I looked up a few different recipes for a jerk spice rub and mixed up a marinade to my liking.
After tasting the finished product I tried to imagine what other ingredients would complete the flavor profile of the sandwich. My first thought was either something sweet or something pickled. Then my mind jumped to bell peppers which would lend themselves to extra sweetness and as well as pickling which, as it turns out, can be done fairly quickly. I sliced up a few peppers and added the pickling mixture and set aside while the tempeh marinated and baked.
In addition to flavor, I was thinking about the texture of the finished sandwich and felt that it would need some kind of sauce. At the cafe, my sandwich had included cashew cheese but my first thought when developing the idea for this jerk tempeh sandwich was to add hummus. After tasting the marinade again, I decided that hummus might distract from the flavors too much and opted for adding avocado slices instead which turned out to provide just the right amount of creaminess without overtaking the overall flavor.
I also ended up adding some sauteed onions for extra smoky sweetness which I feel like really brought out the jerk flavoring and to me, sauteed onions pretty much make anything better! Feel free to get creative and try different toppings on this sandwich. It seems to me like the possibilities are endless!
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 gloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup sliced bell peppers
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup lettuce, I used spring mix
- 2 8-oz packages of tempeh
- 4 whole wheat buns
- Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.
- Slice the tempeh into quarter-inch slices. Be careful if the tempeh is still hot. I used tongs to hold it while slicing/
- Mix all marinade ingredients.
- Lay the tempeh slices single layer in a baking dish and pour marinade over the top.
- Let the tempeh marinate for about 10 minutes while you get the bell peppers pickling.
- Combine the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the pickling mixture over the bell peppers in a bowl, making sure they are completely covered.
- Set the bell peppers in the fridge to pickle while the tempeh bakes. Drain before serving.
- Bake the tempeh at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The tempeh should be heated through, but still soft.
- While the tempeh is baking, slice the onions and sauté in a skillet over medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil until they are caramelized, or about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Slice the avocado and split even on the four buns.
- Top with sliced onions, tempeh slices, pickled bell peppers and lettuce.