Tempeh is still somewhat of an unknown to the non-vegan/vegetarian world yet -- on a grand scale at least. If you go out to a vegan restaurant, they'll most likely have it on the menu, and if you've been vegan for years I'm sure you know what it is, but for everyone else? It's hardly on the radar.
So...What is it?
Good question! Tempeh is a meat alternative similar to tofu in that it's made from soybeans. However, to make tempeh they cook and ferment the beans to create a much different texture than the smooth, (almost milky looking) tofu that you see in the store. Instead, what you get is a much more flavorful and compact protein source, often described as nutty and earthy.
Per every 100 grams/193 calories there are:
19 grams of protein
9 grams of carbs
11 grams of fat.
Compare this to tofu which comes in at only 76 calories per 100 grams and has:
8 grams of protein
1.9 grams of carbs
4.8 grams of fat
It's easy to get a sense of how dense tempeh is when compared with the nutritional values alone to tofu! This texture makes it great for more closely resembling meat in recipes.
How can you use it?
Tempeh works great in a variety of ways and you'll often see it in sandwich recipes if you go to restaurants (my favorite is always the tempeh, lettuce, tomato -- or better known as the TLT-- especially with avocado and sweet mustard...yummmmmmmmm)
You can bake it, sautee it, grill it, fry it, or even eat it RAW! (Definitely not my first choice but it can be done) My personal favorite is baking it because it gets nice and crispy and it's the least effort/clean up lol
Here's my method step by step:
Step 1- I start by using a sharp knife to chop it into even strips.
Step 2 - Marinate the tempeh with your favorite sauce.
This can be a simple soy sauce/tamari like I used below or barbecue, peanut (a personal favorite of mine), or stirfry sauce! The choices are honestly endless, it's just about finding the right flavors to complement your dish.
I usually use 2 - 3 tablespoons of the marinade to coat all of the strips of tempeh but you can add more or less depending on your liking.
Step 3 - Season with your favorite herbs and spices!
Hahaha it looks like I went a little heavy on the seasonings below, but trust me, tempeh has a strong flavor naturally, so I like to add a lot of extra zing to overpower some of its original taste. I only recommend adding more spices if your marinade isn't already seasoned.
For instance, if you use soy sauce or tamari like I did above, I recommend using your own favorite spices in addition to it. However, if you were using a peanut sauce to coat the tempeh, I would refrain from adding more on top of it, unless the peanut sauce wasn't already seasoned the way you like.
I used paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and pepper.
Step 4 - Add your tempeh to a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat and bake!
For the method I've shown above, using tamari and spices, I bake the tempeh at 425ºF for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. However, if you used a different marinade, it may take five to ten minutes longer.
Continue to watch it in the oven every couple of minutes to make sure the texture turns out the way you like.
And that's it! Tempeh can be very easy, simple, and quick to cook. Coupled with the fact that it has such bold flavor and lots of protein, it helps explain why I love it so much!
Tempeh is great in a salad, buddha bowl, stir-fry, on sandwiches, and in veggie burgers and tacos! To see another recipe where I use tempeh, check out my blog post on mini tempeh tacos!
Also, be sure to check out my Instagram - @nicolebolar.blog to see more recipe ideas with tempeh!