Hot Tempeh from The Hot Chicken Cookbook

Hot Tempeh from The Hot Chicken Cookbook. Photograph by Danielle Atkins.

Hot Tempeh from The Hot Chicken Cookbook. Photograph by Danielle Atkins.

Excerpted from The Hot Chicken Cookbook by Timothy Charles Davis

After being made aware of my interest in Nashville-style Hot Chicken, I’ve had countless friends tell me that they want nothing more but to try a piece of the fiery foul, but that doing so would e ectively put the kibosh on their vegetarian/ vegan lifestyle. I’m sympathetic to their plight. Mind you, I’m nothing approaching a vegetarian, but I also don’t consider a meatless meal to be “missing” something. Sometimes I make the meatless version of a given dish, and sometimes I don’t. I like meat, but like the writer Mark Bittman, I prefer it more for its flavor and umami than its heft or size, and believe that the less meat we eat, the better for our health, our pocketbook, and the environment.

Which brings us back to Hot Chicken. What’s the best and most notable thing about Hot Chicken? The “Hot.” The Hot in Hot Chicken invariably comes from a spice paste. If the paste is the thing, the thinking goes, why hasn’t someone come out with a vegetarian Hot “Chicken” experience?

Our prayers have been answered. Nashville restauranteurs Nick Davis from The Wild Cow and Isaac Beard from Pepperfire Hot Chicken tag-team a vegetarian version.

SANDWICH

  • 2 slices wheat bread, lightly toasted

  • avocado, cut into strips

  • lettuce (iceberg will do in a pinch)

  • sliced tomato

  • shredded carrots

  • bean sprouts

  • Veganaise, or other vegan mayo

  • tempeh steaks (The Wild Cow marinates theirs)

THE RUB

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup hot frying oil
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 Preparation

Bake tempeh according to instructions on package (you’re looking for it to have a slight, fried-chicken-like crisp on the outside, yet still tender and chewy throughout). Assemble rub mix, brush liberally on tempeh. Toast bread. Spread both sides with Veganaise. From the bottom up, layer lettuce, tempeh, lettuce, carrot, avocado, tomato, and sprouts. Assemble sandwich, slice diagonally, toothpick each triangle.