If you’re a vegan who’s dined in NYC recently, you’ve most likely been to Champs in Brooklyn. Champs is a diner-style vegan eatery that serves breakfast all day, has healthy options and is generally quite delicious. The past few months they’ve had buffalo tempeh wings on their menu, and normally I steer clear of tempeh. I almost never cook it because of the bitterness and generally I don’t find that it’s prepared well in restaurants. However, the buffalo tempeh at Champs (Dear Champs, Please put the buffalo tempeh wings on your permanent menu. Love, Elisa), is out of this world. I don’t know how they do it, and when my partner asked me if I could replicate the recipe at home I responded with “Maybe….”
I tried, but I couldn’t quite mimic the tempeh I enjoy so much at Champs. I thought these turned out pretty good, regardless. The ranch dressing was the best I’ve ever made and is definitely worth the time it takes to make rejuvelac (a stinky, cheese-y liquid made from fermenting rye seeds).
Here’s the recipe for both the wings and the ranch dip:
Tempeh Buffalo Wings
For the tempeh prep:
2 8oz. packages of tempeh, cut into 1-inch sticks.
2 cups of vegetable stock (I use Better than Bouillon No-Chicken base)
Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil tempeh for 30 minutes. This will remove much of the bitterness and prepare it for marinating. Drain tempeh and pat dry. Place tempeh in a glass dish with stock and marinate for 3-4 hours. Drain tempeh and refrigerate overnight (this is optional, but if you’re as put off by bitter tempeh as I am, prep your tempeh in advance and let it sit overnight to eradicate any bitter flavor).
For the tempeh coating:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of soy milk
1 tbsp vinegar
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Mix vinegar and soy milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The soy milk will curdle and thicken. Combine flour and spices in a shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs and cornmeal in a separate dish.
Dredge tempeh in the flour, soy milk and then breadcrumbs, coating evenly. Place tempeh on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray. Coat tempeh with non-stick spray. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the tempeh once after 10 minutes.
For the Buffalo sauce:
3/4 cup of Frank’s Red Hot, or your favorite hot sauce
1 tbsp melted Earth Balance
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Combine all Buffalo sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Once the tempeh is done baking, use tongs to toss the tempeh in the Buffalo sauce, coating evenly.
Creamy Ranch Dressing
1 lb. firm silken tofu (or cashew cream, if that’s more to your taste)
1/4 cup rejuvelac (Optional, substitute 2 extra tbsp. of nutritional yeast if you don’t want to make it. I used this rejuvelac recipe.)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sweetener (Unless you’re using cashew cream, in which case skip the extra sweetener)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
2 tbsp vegan french onion dip mix, or 1 tbsp onion powder
Handful of fresh parsley (or 1 tbsp dried)
Handful of fresh dill (or 1 tbsp dried)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Transfer dressing to a container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.