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Get to Know: Tempeh

Gingery Garlicky Tempeh

Let’s explore the world of special ingredients together! We’ll do the research and make some mistakes in the kitchen so you don’t have to. Today, experiment with tempeh, a fermented soy product with long-standing history as a delicious meat substitute.

Have you ever felt curious about all the meat substitutes in the refrigerated section of the grocery store? Today we’ll explore tempeh, a soy-based product which, like tofu, can be used in a myriad of dishes and has a hearty flavor, texture and health benefits too.

Tempeh Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Tempeh Explained

Tempeh originated on the island of Java in Indonesia where records indicate its presence around the 1700s, or possibly even as far back as the year 1000. It is currently still a large part of the Indonesian culture and diet where it is used as a meat substitute or main protein in everyday meals. Tempeh is made from soybeans that are fermented, which helps break down the beans making them easier to digest. The beans are packed into cakes and fermented for about 18 hours around room temperature. Traditionally they are rolled into banana leaves and sold at open-air markets, but you’ll find them in shrink-wrapped plastic packages in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Tempeh is usually a beige color and may have some darker brown spots due to the fermentation process.

Mushroom and Tempeh Pizzas

Enjoy Tempeh

Vegetarians and vegans use tempeh since its firm texture can stand up to grilling, frying, sautéing, braising and baking. Its delicious savory flavor is often described as nutty or mushroom-like. Tempeh is a good source of protein with about 31 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Some brands of tempeh may include other grains such as brown rice, millet and other seeds, but many brands are gluten-free and some are pasteurized. The fermentation process helps increase the digestibility of soybeans (and any other grains used in tempeh).

Tempeh Rueben

Explore More

There are several ways to enjoy tempeh, whether you eat a mostly plant-based diet or are looking to try a new meat substitute.

  • Slice into thin strips and sauté with your favorite marinade, then pile onto a sandwich like this Tempeh Reuben or serve with rice and vegetables.
  • Grate on a box grater and add to soups, stews or our Tempeh Bell Pepper Chili instead of using ground meat.
  • Crumble tempeh and add to hash browns or use as a pizza topping in place of sausage.
  • Poach tempeh in broth or water to add moisture and soften it, and then use in your favorite veggie burger recipe.
  • Use tempeh in stir-fries and curries.

Do you have a favorite recipe with tempeh? What are some other creative ways you use it?