The whole point of stir fries is that they’re quick and easy no-brainer kind of meals.  If they take more than twenty minutes…you’re doing something wrong.

My confession of the week (so far) is this: I am a stir fry failure.

It’s true. Just like I’m incapable of having a good less-than-five mile run, I can’t cook a meal in less than an hour.

Forty five minutes on a good day.


I like to tell myself that this is just because I was built for endurance.  My legs don’t feel good until they’re at least five miles out, at which point something suddenly clicks (ummm literally…there are a lot of strange sounds that come out of these here legs of mine) and they coast on adrenaline and the best running high that they can muster for the next…one to fifteen miles.  (Depending on the day and just how psychotic I’m feeling.)

The same, apparently, goes for my cooking prowess.  I flail around aimlessly in the kitchen for the first fifteen minutes trying to figure out why nothing is ever in the right place and chopping eggplant at such a slow pace that it’s as if I don’t want to eat at a rational hour.


And then after thirty minutes of this sort of malingering, I realize exactly how starving I truly am and get serious.  This is the part where all hell breaks loose, sesame seeds end up scattered all over my floor, and I find myself licking sesame orange sauce out of my hair.

It happens.

Don’t be like me.


If you’re a rational human being without this proclivity for making things harder for yourself than they have to be, then this meal will take you all of twenty minutes.  And it will be delicious.

It will burst with vibrant citrus flavor and it will taste, unlike most orange sauces, like oranges. Fancy that.


Although the original recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook called for beef, I used tempeh and really loved the nutty flavor paired with the citrus.  I also only used 4 oz of bean sprouts instead of 1 1/2 pounds, and added in an eggplant and bell pepper instead.  Served over some spinach and brown rice, this made for a really tasty, healthy, filling meal!  For the full recipe, head over to Dominica’s blog and for more info about The Food Matters Project, click here.

And if you could take a minute to vote for my barley risotto with roasted brussels sprouts, apples and champagne honey mustard by clicking here it would be much appreciated!

The winner of the mustard giveaway will be chosen on Wednesday, which is also when voting ends (you can vote once a day until then!) so be sure to enter!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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76 Responses to Seared Bean Sprouts with Tempeh and Sesame Orange Sauce {the food matters project}

  1. I really need to start cooking with tempeh more. I’m putting it on the list (along with this recipe, of course)

  2. Maureen says:

    This bowl of goodness looks wonderful!

  3. Considering how alike we are I’m sure I’d also take 45 minutes to make this, but it looks like it would be worth the time!

  4. Looks delicious! I’ve been wanting to try cooking with tempeh and I think paired with this orange sesame sauce will be a good place to start :-). I couldn’t get over how the orange sauce actually tasted like orange either haha, such a revelation compared to what you get when you order take-out.

  5. Yours looks awesome! I really enjoy tempeh as a meatless option – but can only find it rarely. It sounds waaaaay better than “my” beef version.

  6. Barbara says:

    I like your changes and additions to this dish, Joanne. Never have cooked with tempeh so was interested in this recipe. My kitchen is always a disaster mid-recipe.
    (I voted)

  7. I should make more stirfries, too… Stirfrying is all about having your veggies prepped before you start… and after that, yes, it is super simple to make. Sadly for me, the leftovers are not as tasty as when freshly prepared. But I love your addition of tempeh and all the other veggies! Yum!

  8. Beth says:

    I don’t know if I’m a rational human being, but I love the idea of a quick meal. This recipe looks terrific!

  9. Erin says:

    I’m still not sure about tempeh (I tend to stay away from all meat subs) but your dish looks good enough to convince me to give it another try!

  10. Lynn says:

    I cook like that, too. 🙂 I am never sure if I really like tempeh, but this dish looks good. I so admire your food photography skills.

  11. kellypea says:

    I could never run anywhere so will have to marvel over what you describe — anazing! When I’m on one of my marathon walks, my legs and feet don’t feel good until 30 minutes in — and you’re right. It’s like a switch was flipped, but I’m completely out of gas if I go beyond 6 miles. I’ll work on it! We’ve not tried tempeh but really love a good stir fry no matter how long it takes ;). Thanks for the dinner idea — heading off to vote…

  12. Epicurea says:

    very impressive endurance – right now, my attention span wouldn’t even last for a 20 minutes stir fry :-). like the use of tempeh!

  13. OK – reminder #9873287 that I MUST experiment with tempeh now!! yum!

  14. Amy says:

    Wait until you have kids. You’ll make meals at a lightening speed. No meandering in my kitchen. I get in there, and get ‘er done! Although, hm, it was even like that before kids 😀

  15. Candace says:

    I don’t do so well with stir fries either. The description of your experiences in the kitchen sounded uncomfortably familiar to me. I can totally relate. This looks absolutely delicious. While I’m not sure what tempeh is (I will be Googling it right away), I can definitely see myself loving this dish.

  16. Pam says:

    One and half pounds of bean sprouts!! I think I would have used less too!

  17. KeelyMarie says:

    this made me laugh. I actually get sad when a dish is super quick. then I don’t get my “focus on nothing but cooking” time! I had the same though cooking this one, but I am sure it will come in handy when I do need a quick meal.

  18. Casey says:

    Adding eggplant is ingenious. Your photos rock. I, pretty much followed the recipe and it was good.

  19. oh yum! love the sauce idea. and i’m right with you on the 5+ mile runs being way better than anything else. under 4 isn’t even a run for me (though i know that sounds really arrogant…it’s true, but i am way proud of anyone who DOES run and under 5 is a huge accomplishment for them!). 🙂

  20. Faith says:

    Haha, I also have a certain knack for making things take longer than they have to! Either way, this stir fry looks fantastic!

  21. Is that seared sprout cooked rare or medium rare?
    Those 20-30 minute meals shown by celebrity chefs – I doubt many home cooks can get it done from start to finish in that time period. I guess same for stir frys – few minutes cooking, up to an hour prep time, fiddling around time, conditioning hair with sauce time etc. Some of those sauces could be good for the hair

  22. Jenn says:

    Ha, your writing made me laugh 🙂 Great post!

  23. nutty cirtus combi, thats something for me! IT looks all pretty tasty and healthy too. gonna introduce your dish to my husband. =)

    I wish I had your running endurance Joanne, I realy wish…

  24. Danielle says:

    Thats how I cook – I always plan on prepping all ingredients beforehand but never follow through.

  25. Monet says:

    I love citrus flavored meals…especially in colder months. There is something so refreshing about those sauces. Thank you for sharing with me, Joanne…I’m glad I visited your blog this morning. My stomach is grumbling and my mind is inspired. I hope you have a blessed day!

  26. Margarita says:

    Joanne, I love your pictures! I want that bowl of tempeh goodness right now. Why did I use beef when I really could have used tempeh? Next time. I wish I could get the running high that you get after 5 miles… uhmmm, that’s the part where I become an epic failure.

  27. Camila Faria says:

    I always find myself taking a little too long to cook meals. I’m glad I found someone just like me. It’s not always fun to have lunch at 4 p.m.!

  28. You know, I’m not that great at stirfries myself, but I did make a good one recently – key to me is plenty, like more than you would have ever thought necessary, of garlic, and lots of sesame seeds. Love the sound of your adaptation here.


  29. Erica says:

    What a beautiful dish! I love the flavors and textures.

  30. Jenna says:

    I’m not surprised that your dinners average an hour to make, after seeing the relative complexity of many of your creations. But that’s nothing to feel bad about! Rather, as you say, you have endurance! Which produces deliciousness. And for that we are all grateful.

  31. Laura says:

    I am so excited about this dish–perfect for Meatless Monday 🙂 Tempeh is one of the only soy products I eat and it is so tasty. This stir-fry looks absolutely delicious Joanne.

  32. I think cooking tends to take longer for me than other people too. I have had moments like the sesame seeds scattering and licking orange sauce out of your hair for sure. 🙂 This sounds soooo delish–just love your culinary creations!

  33. I’m def good with 30 minutes meals (and 5 miles or less runs) but I have my days too when everything just takes much, much longer. I’ve also never licked orange sauce from my hair, but chocolate sauce, ahhh that’s a different story 🙂

  34. Pam says:

    There you go again. You are the only person on this earth who can tempt me with tofu and tempeh! The flavors and textures in this stir fry look amazing! I tend to take longer to cook meals because it’s really calming for me. Weird huh?

  35. Absolutely gorgeous pictures. I have never been able to prepare tempeh in a way that I liked but I have a feeling this sauce could change it all for me.

  36. OohLookBel says:

    I’ve never been good at stir fries either, but you’re right – it’s all in the preparation (which I’m hopeless at). However, if the end result looks anything like your effort here, then you’ve inspired me to do better.

  37. You’re always entering some contest or another…how do you find out about all of them??

    This meal looks really tasty. I’m the opposite of you when it comes to cooking. I’m a speed demon, always in such a rush that I’m a total spaz that either knocks things over or cuts myself while chopping, hehe.

  38. HA! I’m the exact same way. Stir frys never seem to go perfectly for me. This one looks lovely! Great idea!

  39. Suzi says:

    Hey, no matter how long it took you to get this meal together to me it looks and sounds like it was well worth the time. I love these ingredients and dinner in a bowl really gets it too. Great post, I ran two blocks yesterday, I guess you could say I am just starting out.

  40. Geni says:

    Looks intriguing. I’m a bit of a slow cook myself…I CAN whip things up speedily if needed but I tend to draw out the process when left to my own devices.

  41. Gloria says:

    look really yummy Joanne! Love the pictures!

  42. Debbie says:

    What a great picture! It just makes me want to dig right in!

  43. Elizabeth says:

    I love bean sprouts, they sell awesome ones at the Union Sq Greenmarket.

  44. I, too, have never cooked with tempeh. The recipe sounds wonderful and your photo is gorgeous. I’ve voted too 😉

  45. Shu Han says:

    that looks gorgeous joanne! and i love bean sprouts, it’s somethign i always grew up with(:

  46. Katie says:

    Thank you for providing me with all the vegan meals I could ever want. I’m trying to go more vegan in my food choices, so I’ve been exploring a lot of your recipes lately. The tempeh in this looks delicious! And, I think I enjoy cooking more when I can spend an hour doing it instead of just the 20 minute efficiency model.

  47. I adore tempeh and love seeing it being used in ways other than indonesian. LOVE!

  48. vianney says:

    I need to try tempeh. your bowl is stunning. 20 minutes is hard to pull off it take almost 10 to heat the cast iron skillet, lol

  49. Johanna GGG says:

    I am with you on never getting dinner done quickly – I putter about and look for stuff people have put away in the wrong spot and then realise I need to chop some vegies for sylvia’s dinner and forget what was in the recipe and consult it five times before I have it in my head. But hey, we make good meals don’t we? And that is what really matters! (nervous breakdown not withstanding)

  50. teresa says:

    this is such a gorgeous dish! i love the flavors and the meatless option.

  51. HI Joanne! I just love the way you tell a story , and funny too!
    This recipe sounds very healthy and its my kind of a meal. I too sometimes take about an hour to get a meal together. Been there ! LOL….. Anna

  52. Mary says:

    This really sounds delicious, Joanne. No one will miss the meat. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings…Mary

  53. Ranjani says:

    I was full a minute ago but your photos are making my stomach growl! This looks sooo good

  54. Reeni says:

    Noone has ever made vegetarian food look better to me. Than you. This has all kinds of wonderful things going on and looks utterly delicious! You would be so proud of me – I have not one but two packages of tofu in my fridge.

  55. Your food looks like art. It’s got so much color and texture. Can we frame it?
    Good idea to substitute the tempeh for the beef. I also cut down on the bean sprouts.

  56. kankana says:

    I will never get to understand how you manage to run that many miles .. but serious kudos to you buddy 🙂
    I am a fast cook .. 30 mins is the max I can stay in the kitchen at one stress 🙂 This dish looks lovely and vibrant!

  57. it looks great, no matter how long it took you to prepare 🙂

  58. Beautiful! I want that serving bowl! Great use of Tempeh!!

  59. That Girl says:

    I’m finally getting the hang of stirfries, which means I’ve finally decided to stop being lazy and prep everything before starting.

  60. I used to be more of an endurance runner for long distances…lately I’ve been working on getting faster in 3-4 miles.

  61. kelsey says:

    good to know I’m not the only person who hears some weird things going on in her legs as she runs…

    this looks divine!

  62. Mo 'Betta says:

    sesame orange sauce sounds delish! I voted!

  63. What a gorgeous and delicious sounding meal! And I’m intrigued by the seared bean sprouts.

  64. Hannah says:

    So many great ingredients that I’ve been meaning to use more often, all in one dish! I love sprouts but in light of recent salmonella outbreaks, am a bit hesitant to eat them raw. A quick, bright stir fry is the ideal solution! Finally, I can put sprouts back on the menu. 🙂

  65. Lexi says:

    Love what you did and your photos are great!

  66. I can’t wait to make this! I love orange, bean sprouts and tempeh

  67. I can’t wait to try this colorful and healthy salad!

  68. Shannon says:

    hehe, i just typed up a post with a stir-fry in it 🙂 of course i was talking about having everything prepped ahead of time so you can eat quickly on a weeknight, lol

  69. Dana says:

    What a great way to use tempeh! I really like that stuff but don’t use it often enough. So the fact that I never run more than 2.8 miles (the loop that is near my house) is why I hate running?

  70. Chris says:

    ha ha, I had the exact same realization tonight. I made plain beef tacos and it still took me an hour because I wanted to make my own slow simmered taco sauce. I’m incapable of a quick meal too:)

  71. Deborah says:

    Most of the time, I’m all about getting into the kitchen and banging out dinner as fast as I can. (This usually has to do with 2 rugrats pulling at my leg.) But other times, I love taking my time and not worrying about how long it is taking. There is something theraputic about it!

  72. I like that you swapped in the tempeh and reduced the bean sprouts (I am not a big fan of bean sprouts). 😉 Loving that orange sauce.

  73. The photos in this post are my favorite ones you’ve taken so far! Love the recipe too 🙂

  74. Nicole says:

    Dang – always on the hunt for more temphe recipes! This one is on the list for real soon! Now – to buy an orange… or maybe cheap out and use the left over oj in the fridge… hmmm (i know, i’m not doing it justice!)

  75. Ginger says:

    made this tonight with your edits and it was wonderful!! we used some simply orange brand OJ in lieu of fresh juice/zest, and that was fine.
    I suppose you could swap agave for the honey to make it vegan.

    thanks for another great recipe!

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