April 5th, 2012

How to Cook with Tempeh

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Groovy Green Livin Tempeh

The first time I tried tempeh I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t like the texture or the taste.  A few years have passed and I can honestly say I’ve come full circle. Tempeh has become a food I can’t live without.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is relatively new to those of us in the west, but it’s been a staple for hundreds of years for many living in Asia. Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a rectangular patty. The consistency is similar to that of a veggie burger. Many use it as a meat substitute in dishes. It has a nutty, grainy flavor.

Soy products have gotten a bad rap over the past few years and fallen victim to controversy. Fermented soy products, such as tempeh and miso, have been touted as healthier soy selections. As with any food, all soy products should be eaten in moderation.

Health benefits of tempeh

Tempeh is an excellent source of protein and fiber. It also is high in nutrients like manganese and copper. The fermentation process makes the soybeans soft and easy to digest.  Tempeh also acts as a natural antibiotic.

Cooking with tempeh

There are generally two types of tempeh out there:  fresh and vacuum-sealed. Both are found in the refrigerated section of your store. Tempeh is fairly simple to cook with. Here are few suggestions for incorporating tempeh into your diet.

Stir fried tempeh

Stir fry tempeh

I add tempeh to stir fry on a regular basis. It’s a great meat substitute and soaks up the flavor of any sauce or seasoning used.

Tempeh is generally sold in blocks or bricks. Cube the block of tempeh into 1 inch pieces.  I use Bragg’s liquid amino in my stir fry’s instead of soy sauce or tamari (Japanese soy sauce).  Stir fry the tempeh in a little olive oil and some Braggs. The tempeh will turn slightly brown. Add tempeh to any stir fry in place of tofu, chicken or shrimp.

Baked tempeh

Baked tempeh

Tempeh on its own, without any sauce or seasoning, doesn’t have a lot of flavor. If you plan to bake it I would suggest marinating the tempeh overnight in your favorite sauce.  After marinating, pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes on 350 degrees and you will have a great dish.  Another idea: dice up the baked tempeh and add to stir-fry!

Whenever possible choose organic tempeh.

Have you tried tempeh? What did you think? How do you cook with tempeh?


[Photos used under Creative Commons from ilovebutter and KushiInstitute/Flickr]

Linked with: I Thought I Knew Mama, The Green Backs Gal, Simplify, Love, Life

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