Friday, March 9, 2012

Back to Basics: Tempeh Preparation

Tempeh. Oh how I love you.
You make my life so yummy and versatile and you give me lots and lots of nutrition. Your very high in protein, calcium, iron, dietary fiber  and lots of vitamins, and bring a mild nutty flavor to my dishes. Even though here in the West we think you are a fairly new discovery, Asia has been enjoying your deliciousness for hundreds of years.
Now, if your love of tempeh is not quite as fond as mine, read on, my friends, read on.

OK, so maybe your not a tempeh fan (just yet!), or maybe you have never even heard of it. Or maybe you have heard of it, but don't have the slightest clue what to do with it. Well friends, have no fear, Mo the Veggie girl is here to show you some basic tempeh preparation that will give you a flavor infused delicious end product, that you can transform into millions of creations to come. And it is shockingly easy to prepare. And I mean shockingly. Do not be afraid of the tempeh. It will only give you yummy food bliss when treated with a little TLC. 

So what exactly is tempeh made of anyway: Tempeh is basically made from soybeans that have been naturally cultured and fermented, and then made into a little block. It is different than tofu in many ways. For starters, the nutrition is higher all around and digestion easier, due to the fermentation process. It is made from the whole soybean and not "processed" into something different. Just fermented and pressed. it is kind of earthy and nutty tasting.

And where can I buy Tempeh? Sold at Whole Foods Markets as well as most other health food stores. And I have also seen it sold at Ralph's Supermarket, Sprouts, and basically anywhere where you can find health foods and vegan food options like tofu. Make sure to buy Organic, non GMO tempeh. Your body will thank you!

And now we move on to the oh so easy preparation of tempeh that will turn this humble food into something amazing! This was a method I learned from Chef Tanya Petrovna, who some of you may know as the creative mind and genius behind the Native Foods Cafe Restaurants. There are a few ways to prep tempeh, but this one is the best. Hands down. So good.

Just a little side note, steaming tempeh is very important. Here in this preparation, I am simmering it in a delicious marinade which also works great. But if nothing else, make sure that you place the tempeh in a pot with some water, or in a steaming basket, and steam it for about 20 to 30 minutes before using it . This will remove the slight bitterness from the tempeh. Or follow my favorite method below.

Glazed Tempeh:
(method from Chef Tanya Petrovna of Native Foods Cafe)

Step 1: Make the marinade
2/3 cup of water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
a nice inch or so of grated fresh ginger root

Mix together in a bowl and set aside.

Step 2: Cut tempeh and brown in a pan
Using 1 to 2 blocks of tempeh, cut the tempeh in half so you have two rectangles. Then cut an "x" on top of each rectangle to create 8 smaller triangles per block of tempeh. Heat a large skillet to medium high. Add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Saute the tempeh until browned on both sides.

Step 3: Simmer the tempeh in the glaze
Once the tempeh has been browned on both sides, pour in the marinade/glaze you made and let boil for 3-4 minutes. Then turn the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Most of the glaze should be gone at this point, soaked into the tempeh and reduced to almost nothing.

Step 4: Let cool, and then have some fun
Remove the tempeh from the pan and let cool for about 10 minutes. At this point, you can cut it up into small pieces, or crumble it up into a bowl, and add some veganaise and herbs for wraps and many other things! Here's some delicious recipe to start you on your tempeh adventures!


  1. Excellent, my friend!!!!

    I don't think many people really KNOW what to do with tempeh, how to make it, or what it even is! I remember when I had no clue then learned from you and was so grateful :-) It's so yummy and a staple over here!'

    I usually bake it and I have marinated it, but usually just cover it with evoo and season. I am in love with this recipe you posted though! Looks amazing! I will definitely try it!!!

    I am going to wait another month or so but I can't wait to share it with Ella!! Michael does not share my love for tempeh, but then again, he's a picky eater ;-0

    Have a great weekend <3

    1. Your baked version sounds YUMMY too! I love hearing what others like to do with it also! We WILL get Michael on board...oh yes we will!! LOL Persistance! :D I am coming up with a new "tempeh style" summer burger that is kind of gonna be guys food if you know what I mean! So maybe, just maybe, we can win him over with that one! HAHA!

      Its such a staple for us too! Just so much you can do with it!

      Have a great weekend Girl! <3

  2. Excellent post on Tempeh with such great information! I have used Tempeh in a lot of dishes and I agree that it is delicious, healthy and very easy to use. I love all the links to your recipes. You are awesome Morgan:)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks girl for stopping by! Glad to hear you love tempeh too!

  4. I love tempeh, thanks for the great info. Now for seitan :) I haven't had any luck with that.

  5. I've had some bad tempeh experiences but I really want to try your method out!

    1. I hope you do!! Cooking it with the right marinades, and stemaing, etc. makes ALL the difference! Let me know if you give it a go!!!

  6. Oh - big YAY for this post. I have tried tempeh and just do not like it, but I think I've been making it wrong! I cant wait to try this recipe. This gives me hope that one day I'll like it. May I link back to your blog from my blog for this recipe?