What Was Cookin’ At First Friday

Depending on how closely you follow this blog, you may or may not recall my making a pledge — a resolution if you will — regarding Food & First Fridays. What I resolved to do was try and make at least one “homemade” dish for each First Friday. I made it through the first two (January & February) without too much trouble. You can see write-ups on the previous renditions here:

https://blog.ridgewine.com/2012/02/04/first-friday-cookin/, and here: https://blog.ridgewine.com/2012/01/06/doin-a-lil-home-cookin-for-first-friday/

But given that I’d received a request to lay off the garlic a tad, I was a bit stumped for March. Cook without garlic? But how?

Fortunately, there is a sauce in my repertoire that can be made with or without garlic, so I decided to try the non-garlic version. The tricky part, is that it’s sort of an Asian-style sauce, so what to do as regards wine pairing with Ridge?

What I went for was perhaps a tad unusual, but I am happy to report (barring any negative comments that show up in the feed!) that people seemed to quite like what I concocted. Which is this:

Toasted Sesame Oil-Basted Grilled Tempeh topped with Tahini-Tamari Sauce.

The goal was to provide the salty umaminess that always works well with our wines, in combination with a nice toasty nuttiness and granularity that would ideally both play off the structured aspects of the wines, and also provide a good springboard for the fruit.

First, the ingredients …

The sauce (which begins with the tamari and the tahini) gets a thorough puree, sans basil,  until creamy, and until the balance of umami and nuttiness is just right. The consistency should be thick, but not too thick; about halfway between tomato soup and split pea soup. Once the balance is right, and the puree thorough, in goes a quick splash of rice wine vinegar — just enough to cut — and then add in lots of fresh basil, until the sauce’s countenance is appropriately freckled …

After that, you can let the sauce sit. While the sauce relaxes, harmonizes, and self-jujus, it’s tempeh time. First, cut it into strips …

Then baste it with the sesame oil …

Then get it onto the grill …

Then once it’s good and grilled, lay the strips out on a platter, garnish with some fresh basil leaves, and enthusiastically coat with sauce …

The great thing about this dish, in addition to it incorporating a sauce that will see you mainlining it like a junkie within minutes, is that it’s extremely wine-flexible. That it paired very well with both the very young but very delicious 2010 Geyserville (bright, fresh, acidity-driven and herbaceous), AND the comparatively seasoned and also very delicious 2007 Lytton Estate Syrah (dark, earthy, complex, and tannin-forward) speaks volumes about said flexibility.

Wait, I hear my doorbell ringing. It’s you! What? You’ve got the shakes? You’re jonesing? You need more sauce?

I’m your pusherman.

Categories: Events, Food & Wine Pairing, Geyserville, Syrah, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine Clubs, Zinfandel

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5 replies

  1. Great stuff! I am going to miss you guys so much… We may just have to fly back for First Fridays!! And yes, I do need some more of that sauce…

  2. Looks really good, Christopher. But you know what excites me most about this blog entry? The 2007 Lytton Estate Syrah. As much as Ridge is known for its zinfandels, and of course the Monte Bello, your syrah is always remarkable and consistently among the very top syrahs I drink every year. Looking forward to finding it in an upcoming ATP shipment.

  3. Christopher,
    It was a hit! Everyone loved it (even though most had no idea what they were eating!)
    Thanks for the healthy, yummy food and for layin’ off the garlic, just a tad!

  4. Great post! (playing a little Curtis Mayfield in the background?;-) I had Tempeh for the first time last week. I quite enjoyed it too! While I knew it was vegetarian, I didn’t know it was a soy product. It was grilled with a sauce and served with quinoa patties (quite nice too I might add). At the time, I thought “I’ll have to get a recipe for this stuff”…you’ve spared me the trouble!


  1. Our last First Friday | Gourmet Veggie Mama

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