Japanese Green Beans and Tempeh

Mark requested sushi rice – just sushi rice – for dinner tonight, but I of course insisted on adding a vegetable and protein to the rice. I did want to keep it very simple though, as I haven’t felt like cooking much this weekend. So here’s what I did:

Simple Japanese Green Beans

8 oz French-style green beans (or regular green beans)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Toast the sesame seeds over a medium flame until they are light brown and smell sesame-y. I’m using a tiny cast iron pot my mother-in-law gave me (because she knows I love cast iron).

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the green beans. Cook French-style green beans for 2 minutes; fatter beans for maybe 3 minutes: you want them crisp-tender.

Whisk together the soy sauce and mirin. I like using Asian tea cups for tiny mixing jobs.

When green beans are just cooked, drain.

Toss green beans with soy sauce mixture and sesame seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I don’t think tempeh is very big in Japanese cooking, but I decided to give it a Japanese twist to serve with Mark’s sushi rice. Here’s what I did:

Japanese-style Tempeh

8 oz tempeh
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp miso
2″ ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, pressed or smashed
several shakes shichimi togarashi (Japanese “seven spice” seasoning)

Whisk together all ingredients but tempeh; set aside.

Chop the tempeh: cut into fourths, then slice each fourth in half lengthwise …

… then slice each eighth into four strips.

I managed to forget to take a picture of the tempeh marinating, but pour the marinade over the tempeh in a shallow bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes. I did this first then made the green beans above. Drain the tempeh, reserving the marinade. (I just picked the tempeh out of the marinade.)

Heat some oil in a hot cast iron skillet (I used olive oil with a bit of sesame), then add the tempeh strips.

Fry until golden on all sides.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of marinade over the tempeh and stir. I also added a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.

Serve with rice.

This was simple and quick, but pretty salty, as is a lot of Japanese food. And tempeh seems to soak salt right up. So you may want to use low-sodium soy sauce or try reducing the amount I called for, depending on your salt tolerance.

Here is Mark demonstrating how much he loves sushi rice. He’s eating it straight out of the rice cooker, off the rice paddle.


  1. radioactivegan Said,

    March 7, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    You’ve got to love a man who knows what he wants … even if it is just sushi rice. 🙂 Looks like you made a great meal based on his request.

  2. Tiana Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 12:10 am

    I love all of your little mixing bowls! The green beans sound perfect as a side dish. I need to give these a shot.

    Glad to see Mark enjoyed his rice, lol.

  3. Jes Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Sushi rice is pretty awesome, but I’m glad you added some veggies and protein 🙂

  4. trinity Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

    sweet purple bangs! and your meal looks awesome.

  5. Josiane Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    You’re terrific at putting together quick meals that sound awesome! Simple and delicious go together well. 🙂

  6. Silvia Said,

    March 26, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    You’re brave. I go into all kinds of ethnic supermarkets but I tend to shy away from buying products simply because it reads “meatless” or “vegetarian.” I need a full list of ingredients and even then-I’m skeptical.

    Does that mean there is no animal broth in there? By-products? I’ve had the unpleasant experience of ordering “vegetarian” stuff in Asian restaurants, only to find out upon being served that there were meat chunks along with the tofu in my bowl (“only very little meat” is the answer to my befuddled query “I thought it was vegetarian”). So, just a word of caution to you.

  7. renae Said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    Silvia, there was a full list of ingredients – I wouldn’t buy anything that didn’t. I’ve been vegan for over ten years and vegetarian for ten years before that: I know a thing or two about reading labels.

  8. Janet Said,

    October 25, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

    Thank you — we had a remarkably similar dinner tonight. I did a search based on the ingredients I wanted to use: green beans & tempeh, and found this. It was simple, healthy, and delicious. Used a blend of brown & white instead of sushi rice.

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