In Raw Fusion, we introduce the method of tempering vegetables so that they might be easier to digest, milder in taste, firmer or softer in texture, or any number of desirable transformations. The idea is to quickly convert the food to a new texture, without destroying their treasury of enzymes and vitamins. Other ways to describe tempering vegetables might be: flash-wilting, flash-blanching, or even flash-grilling.
Often, tempering vegetables will help them overcome certain traits that make them difficult to digest. For instance, cruciferous vegetables have a higher cellulose content, making the fiber harder to break down in the intestines so that nutrients can be absorbed through the intestinal walls. They also contain oxalic acid, which is mildly irritating to the body, so tempering helps mitigate these factors as well as making certain vegetables more palatable to people who have difficulty consuming them raw.
EXAMPLES OF CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES:
Broccoli, Brussels Sprout, Cabbage, Collard Greens, Kale, Horseradish, Rutabaga, Turnip, Chinese Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli Rabe, Daikon, Bok Choy, Radish, Spinach.
Another example of the improvements by tempering is the effect of heat on green beans, They start as graceful pods that are a joy to see on the vine, bursting with vital nutrients and life-enhancing chlorophyll.. Even the bean flowers are said to make the skin younger if you wash your face in their water, so rich in vitamins is the plant. However, try to eat green beans raw and you might find the taste unpleasant or even suffer a stomachache.
On the other hand, green beans cooked in boiling water two-three minutes are still quite raw, but much easier to digest and still packed with enzymes and vitamins you can see in the bright color, taste, and feel in the form of quick energy. Green beans (or haricots vert) cooked in this manner, are a key ingredient in the wonderful French Salad Nicoise .
Broccoli is another vegetable that responds beautifully to tempering and is so much tastier this way; Break broccoli into small pieces, cut away some of the fibrous peel with a paring knife and put in a metal or glass bowl. Pour some simmering water over the broccoli for about 60 seconds, then rinse with cold water. I either chop up the tempered broccoli to use in nut burgers or “treat balls” or I blend in the food processor with tahini, lemon, garlic and sea salt for a delicious and nutritious paté,
Peeling the outer peel of the broccoli stalks and florets only takes a few moments improves the flavor 100%! (you don’t have to get every piece off :- )
What is Tempering?
To temper means to improve the consistency of something, usually with heat.
In cooking, tempering usually refers to heating and cooling chocolate so that it will hold a firm shape at room temperature. Without tempering, chocolate-covered cherries would drip in runny chocolate sauce, rather than invite you to pick them up with your fingers.
Years before went raw, I experimented with making miso soups with lightly cooked greens and vegetables. I called these infusions, taken from the French style of steeping herbs as in medicinal tisanes (herbal teas.) Stirring either a powdered miso soup mixture or a spoonful of unpasteurized miso in boiling water to make a base, I let the water cool a bit and add a number of items that will gently steam in the broth, yet retain their enzymes and nutrients. I also add a drop or two of toasted sesame oil and sprinkle of roasted garlic nuggets to enhance the flavors.
Here are some of the ingredients I have used in an infusion:
Spinach or bok choy leaves
Snow peas (with top thread removed and cut into small pieces)
Chopped scallions or chives
Dried mushrooms (shitake, porcini)
Green peas (either fresh from the pod or frozen)
Fresh or frozen corn
Broccoli, chopped finely
Sugar snap peas (diced)
If you eat animal protein, you may add scallops or shrimp while the water is still quite hot to flash boil them. I’d recommend cutting them into smaller pieces if you prefer their texture more cooked than raw. You can also break an egg into the hot water and stir in to allow it to cook before adding the other ingredients.
Another way of heat-treating herbs and leafy greens to change their taste and texture is to sprinkle them with a little water and wilt them under glass bowls in the sun. This is much like the concept of making “sun tea” by simply putting herbs and water in a glass (definitely preferable over plastic!) jar or container and exposing to sunlight for several hours.
An easy way to begin experimenting with the art of tempering is to make a tray of cut vegetables, Crudités, as the French call them. Before arranging the vegetables on the tray, put them in a colander and splash them with simmering water and let drain. The brief contact with the hot water will brighten both their color and flavor. You will have the prettiest tray of raw veggies you can imagine that also retain their crispness and energizing enzymes. Serve these luscious and crunchy jewels with raw dressings and dips for a sensational summer banquet.
CRUDITÉ PLATTER IDEAS – Baby carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green Beans, Radishes, Brussel Sprouts, Cherry Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas
Here’s a great recipe for STEAMED broccoli – cooked longer than tempering BUT absolutely delicious and nutritions. These taste great cold or hot and actually work well as snacks with or without a dip!
Dr. Andrew Weil’s Healthy Steamed Broccoli
Step 1 – Wash a bunch of broccoli
Step 2 – Peel the outer fibrous layer and cut into manageable or bite-sized pieces
Step 3 – In a pan that can comfortably hold all of the broccoli, add a few inches of water.
Step 4 – Add 1 TB. olive oil, 1 tsp. Himalayan or sea salt, 1 clove garlic crushed Optional: Add 1-2 TB. lemon juice.
Step 5 – Steam on high for only a FEW minutes. Broccoli should be firm but edible! Store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.