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Creole Tempeh Gumbo

A bit labor-intensive - I'd wait and do this over a weekend - but it's so worth it.



  • 12 oz tempeh
  • 1/3 c brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • ¼ c tamari
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ...................


  • ½ c plus 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • ¾ c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼ c minced garlic
  • 8 oz okra, cut into 1/2-inch thick rings
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • ¼ c chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ c vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp file powder (real file powder is not that easy to find - I substituted with a few shakes of ground cumin and it turned out just fine)
  • 4 c steamed brown rice


  1. To prepare the tempeh: Cut the tempeh into 4 by 1 by ½ inch strips. Pour enough water into a large pot to come 1 inch up the sides. Set a steamer basket in the pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the tempeh in the basket, cover, and steam for 10 minutes, or until heated through.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk the rice syrup, oil, tamari, paprika, oregano, thyme, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper in a small, heavy saucepan over high heat. Bring to a simmer, then pour into an 8-inch square baking pan. Immediately add the hot tempeh and turn to coat. Cover and let stand at least 2 hours at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.

  3. Preheat the broiler. Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil the foil. Remove the tempeh from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off. Reserve the marinade. Arrange the tempeh in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet and broil until brown and crisp on top. Turn the tempeh over and brush with some of the reserved marinade. Broil 5 minutes longer, or until the tempeh is brown and crisp on top. Cut the tempeh into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

  4. ...................

To make the gumbo:

  1. Heat the ½ cup oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking frequently, for 6 minutes, or until the flour is amber brown. Set aside.

  2. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a large, heavy stockpot over high heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers. Saute for 10 minutes or until the onions are tender. Stir in the garlic, then the okra. Squeeze the tomatoes into the mixture and add all the juices from the can. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, oregano, paprika, thyme, onion powder and cayenne pepper, and then stir in the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the gumbo thickens slightly and the flavors blend. Add the broiled tempeh and any remaining marinade and simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the file powder.

  3. Spoon the rice in shallow, wide serving bowls. Ladle the gumbo over the rice to serve.

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