One of my goals for the summer is to improve my French. After a few years of living in Montreal, I’ve learned quite a lot: I came to the city after studying French on my own for a little over a week, and now I can function reasonably well. But most of what I know is what I call “grocery-store French,” the stuff of small business transactions, not genuine conversations, or the scholarly texts which I will be called upon to read in my academic career. Ask me about fromage, or où est le Musée des Beaux-Arts, and I can answer you confidently, but ask me my opinion on the causes of the end of the Roman Republic, and I’ll stand there stammering. A shameful state of affairs indeed.
But grocery-store French is not wholly to be sniffed at. I’ve learned a lot of things that will come in handy later on. Beware of false friends when it comes to spelling, for example. Whose bright idea was it for broccoli to have two c’s, while brocoli has only one c? Or that plural which forever offends my copy-editing brain: des sandwichs.
What hath French to do with stir-fry? Not a heck of a lot. I must beg your indulgence for my rambliness—Montreal is experiencing a heat wave, and my brain is as fried as the tempeh in this dish. With any luck, the taste will cover a multitude of sins.
Broccoli and Bell-Pepper Stir-Fry with Maple-Balsamic Sauce
- 250 g tempeh, cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 C soy sauce
- 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
- 2 T maple syrup
- coconut oil
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- salt to taste
Marinate the tempeh in the soy sauce, vinegar, and maple syrup for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
Heat plenty of coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Pull the tempeh out of the marinade and put it in the pan, reserving the leftover marinade, and fry the pieces of tempeh for 2-3 minutes on each side. Don’t be alarmed when they blacken somewhat. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
Add more coconut oil to the pan if you need it; I didn’t. Throw in the broccoli, bell pepper, and the white parts of the scallions. Stir-fry for about four minutes, then add the leftover marinade and the tempeh and continue to cook until everything is tender and hot. Season to taste and serve with rice or noodles.