Tempeh is Indonesian in origin, and is made from soybeans or a mixture of soy and other grains that have been cultured and allowed to ferment, similar to the process of making cheese.
Tempeh's texture is typically chewy and full of body, but some is more like a soft tofu and it has a mushroomy, nutty flavour. Being a soy food, tempeh is popular in Asian cooking, and its high protein content also makes it popular among vegetarians.
The following brands of tempeh are all Canadian, and each offers various tempehs: soy-only, soy and grains and soy with seasonings.
Henrys Tempeh www.tempeh.ca
Green Cuisine www.greencuisine.com
Noble Bean www.noblebean.ca
Here's a sampling of the Nutrition Facts for Tempeh:
Soy Tempeh (by Noble Bean) Per 100g: 200 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 g trans), 0 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 9 g fibre, 0 g sugar, 19 g protein, 25% DV Calcium, 50% DV Iron.
Tempeh with Sea Veggies (by Noble Bean) Per 100 g: 200 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 g trans), 0 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 10 g fibre, 0 g sugar, 19 g protein, 25% DV Calcium, 50% DV Iron.
BuyingWhen buying refrigerated tempeh, look for the "sell by" or expiry date. Most tempeh comes in 8 oz packages (225 g), which makes 2 cups when cubed.
StoringPackaged tempeh will keep for up to a year in the freezer. Once tempeh is steamed, it will stay fresh 6 to 8 days in the refrigerator.
Most tempeh is not sold ready-to-eat; it needs to be cooked first. However, some tempeh, such as Henry's comes pasteurized and ready-to-eat straight from the package. Green Cuisine tempeh is also pre-cooked and can be used hot or cold straight from the package.
You can use virtually any cooking method for tempeh, including poaching, simmering, boiling, steaming, baking, broiling, grilling, sauteeing, pan-frying or deep-frying. Tempeh also remains moist and tender when microwaved.
Microwaving To microwave tempeh, combine 8 oz of tempeh with 3 tbsp water in a covered microwave-safe dish. Cook on high for five minutes.
Marinating To add flavour beyond the mild, nutty flavour of plain tempeh, marinate before cooking. A simple, common marinade is soy sauce mixed with a bit of one (or more) of the following: balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sherry, mirin (rice wine), orange or pineapple juice. Cut the tempeh into small cubes or thin slices before marinating for better absorption of flavours.
You can also marinate tempeh in barbeque sauce, particularly for the grill. Marinated tempeh can be baked, stir-fried, broiled or grilled. Large slices are excellent in a sandwich, smaller chunks on kabobs, and bite-sized pieces can be served on toothpicks for an appetizer.
Crumble or slice tempeh and use in recipes where you would use ground beef or small chunks of meat. Substitute tempeh for meat or tofu in stir-fries, stews, and casseroles.
Grating Grated tempeh can be substituted for ground meat. The easiest way to To grate tempeh, an easy and effective method is to use a food processor. First cube the tempeh (1/2 inch or so) then place into food processor. The texture of the tempeh so "grated" resembles ground meat.
Frying Slice patties in two through the thickness and fry them in a little olive oil, sprinkled with a light soysauce and ginger.
Fakin' Bacon Slice patties lengthwise and then very thin through the thickness, to resemble bacon. Bake strips in the oven, brushing both sides with a marinade of mustard, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or barbeque sauce, etc., until crisp and bacon-like.
Tempeh's versatility as a protein that can be sliced, cubed, crumbled and marinated make it easy to add to your dietary repertoire. It goes best with a robust savory sauce. Remember, some tempeh is not sold ready-to-eat, so choose your favourite cooking technique and enjoy tempeh any time of the day.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Tempeh:
- Tempeh can be thinly sliced, marinated and pan-fried as a meat substitute similar to bacon.
- Crumble tempeh into egg dishes.
- Try one of the breakfast tempeh dishes listed in our recipes.
- Add slices of prepared tempeh to sandwiches instead of meat.
- Add cubes of tempeh to salad - marinade the tempeh and then use the marinade as a dressing. Unlike meat marinades, leftover prepared tempeh marinades are safe to use after the protein has been marinated.
- Take a warming tempeh soup for lunch, either reheated or sealed in a thermos. Tempeh is excellent in hearty soups like minestrone, bean and pea soups and chowders.
- Use tempeh slices in fajitas, or tempeh pieces on pizza.
- Serve tempeh alongside vegetables and whole grains for a meatless meal.
- Incorporate crumbled tempeh into any ground meat dish for a more subtle introduction of this protein to your diet (or those of soy-resistant family members).
- Crumbled tempeh is simple and tasty in chili
- Make pâtés or spreads with tempeh (see recipes) and serve with whole grain crisp breads and crudités.
- The Tempeh Cookbook by Dorothy R. Bates (1989, Book Publishing Company, USA)