Posted by: conradvisionquest | April 21, 2010

Tempeh for my Belleh

Ok, so I am trying to like tofu.  So far only one recipe of many tried has made it into the rotation.  But what about tempeh? What is it? How does it compare?  How do you cook it? I try to answer some of those questions here.

Basically, tempeh is cake of soybeans, which have been de-hulled, cooked, mixed with a tempeh starter and incubated for a day or two. So made from the same stuff as tofu, just not as processed.  From

Since tempeh is made from whole soybeans, it is a fiber-rich food. Tempeh is a rich source of proteins, minerals, soy isoflavones and saponins. It is also a generous source of nutrients such as calcium, B-vitamins and iron. In addition, tempeh is a good source of monounsaturated fats and contains no cholesterol. The natural tempeh fermentation process also makes the soya more digestible.

To compare it to tofu, the texture is totally different.  But it is comparable in that it takes on whatever flavors you are preparing it with.  It may look kinda scary at first if you are unfamiliar with it, at least it did to me, but I have gotten over that after tasting how yummy it can be.  I did some searching on the ‘net and didn’t really find any recipes that blew me away, so I tried this simple one.

out-of-the-package tempeh

8 oz. package of organic tempeh
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
Vegetable Oil for frying (I used a canola/olive oil blend)


Slice the tempeh in half, then slice each half in half horizontally to make 4 thin patties. Place patties in a shallow dish with some worcestershire sauce and the garlic.  Marinate at least overnight or up to 48 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the tempeh, heat some vegetable oil in an iron skillet on medium.  Place marinated tempeh in skillet and fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Place on a paper-towel lined plate for a minute or so, then serve immediately with your favorite side dishes.

We had these with brown rice and green bean salad.  They were very flavorful and delicious!  The huz had his on a sesame bun, sandwich style, with some lettuce and onions.  I had mine as is and I was pleasantly surprised.  I like the texture much better than tofu.

Tempeh would be great cut into smaller pieces, marinated, fried, and served over stirfry veggies, rice, or noodles.  I think we’ll try that next time.

PS- Seems like the Worst Vegan Ever has found the secret to good tofu.

What about you? Are you a fan of tofu? Ever tried tempeh? Recipes to share? Comment below…



  1. I’ve only had tofu on two occasions with so-so results. But then again I’ve been vegetarian for what? Three weeks? So I’m not giving up on it yet. I want to give tempeh a whirl but have not been able find any. If I do you’ll know cause the shrieks of excitement may cause a few avalanches in the mountains.

    • i was surprised to find it in my grocery. i’ll keep an ear out for your shrieks!

  2. This recipe from Veganomicon started my love affair with tempeh:

    I think it’s because the tempeh is crumbled up into small pieces and marinated in a tangy and spicy sauce. It really soaks up the flavor.

    It took me a while to get the hang of tofu. I always liked it when I ate it at Asian restaurants, but I could never figure out how to get that same texture. But I think the key is pressing it. I almost always buy extra firm tofu (not the silken kind) and press it using paper towels and a cast iron skillet. I try to leave it there for at least 20 minutes to remove all the liquid.

    • yeah, i’ve only cooked tofu a few times. thanks for the link to that recipe! i’ll have to check that out…

  3. Tempeh completely grosses me out, so when I do eat processed soy (and I try to keep it to a minimum) I stick to tofu. Have you tried making things with vital wheat gluten? In addition to seitan, I use it to make grain-based sausages (similar to Field Roast), hot dogs, meatballs, burgers, cutlets…just thought I’d throw that out there.

    • i’m a little leary of gluten. i’ve read some stuff about it and hadn’t really done a thorough investigation yet…

  4. Boiling and freezing tofu do pretty cool things to the texture, too. And if you buy the vacuum sealed packs of extra firm, you don’t need to press any of the liquid out. Wildwood makes a great one – and it’s sprouted, too!

    • thanks for those tips!

  5. for me my love for tofu was started with a tofu-scrabble from Vegan Brunch and was strengthened by baked italian and BBQ tofu from Veganomicon – even my husband said it was the best tofu he had ever had (and I had made many before 🙂

    • hmmm, i might have to purchase this Veganomicon. i’ve heard alot about it. thanks for the suggestions!

  6. Mmmm…tempeh!! One of mine-and my husband’s-fave ways of eating tempeh is in “bacon” form. I very thinly slice the tempeh. In a large shallow dish I stir together 2 T. each tamari and maple syrup, about a tsp. liquid smoke, a couple cloves crushed garlic, and about 1/3 cup water. I lay the tempeh in it, making sure all the slices are completely covered. Then, just cover it and let it marinade at least 2 hours…I usually do it overnight. Lay the strips on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for between 20-30 minutes. It’s great as a side or on sandwiches. I sometimes crumble it as “bacon bits” too.

    • that’s so funny you say that! we were just talking about making tempeh BLTs! thanks for that recipe.

  7. I’ve never tried tempeh….I know…weird, right?
    …I’m a huge fan of seitan.
    I make it in huge batches and freeze it so we make it about once a month.
    Not for anything though….I do so much with seitan that I’ve just never purchased Tempeh.
    However, a lot of my cookbooks call for tempeh…I just usually replace with seitan.
    …..maybe I’ll pick some up on the way home tonight…we’re planning on grilling…I”m sure I can come up with something!
    I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • yeah, let me know what happens with that grillin tempeh!

  8. Delighted that you found me and I have the opportunity to visit your blog, which I Love! and I’m looking forward to visiting over and over.

    A vegan journey can begin with one meal . . . yep, that’s all it takes is some marinara sauce, a salad and some great bread with luscious vegan spread . . . and then, on to tempeh, haven’t mastered it yet, but, now I have some buds to help me out. YEAH!

    Love to All,

    • thanks for stopping by and commenting, Tana! now you made me hungry for pasta and red sauce. this weekend I am going to be making a 12 hour “sunday sauce.” hopefully it will be a hit and i will be blogging about it. come back soon!

  9. Why I love tempeh:

    TEMPEH PICCATA (my own personal recipe)

    1 package of tempeh, cut into 8 slices

    For cornmeal mixture:
    2/3 c. non-GMO cornmeal or unbleached flour (I prefer cornmeal)
    1/3 c. nutritional yeast
    1 tbs. garlic powder
    1 tbs. onion powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. pepper

    For sauce:
    1 lemon, 1/2 of the lemon cut into circular slices (roughly 3-4)
    1/4-1/2 c. white wine (start with 1/4 c. and add as you go to taste)
    1 1/4 c. veggie broth
    1/4 c. arrowroot powder or non-GMO corn starch
    2 tbsp. olive oil for pan, and more to add if you need more
    1/4 c. capers
    1/4 c. fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

    Heat a little olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Dredge slices of tempeh in a bowl of 1/2 c. of the veggie broth and then in the cornmeal mixture. Drop tempeh in pan, and brown on both sides. Set aside and keep warm. Add lemon slices to oil and allow to cook for about two minutes. Add remaining juice of 1/2 of lemon, 3/4 c. veggie broth, and wine, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to reduce. Mix arrowroot powder with a little water to make a liquid, and slowly add to the sauce to thicken to your liking. Add capers, and cook for 1 more minute. Add tempeh to coat, toss on both sides, and serve with sauce and parsley.

    I like to make this with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed kale or spinach.


    • wow, that sounds amazing! thanks for that recipe…

  10. I love that story…I received it in an email years ago and always remember it every time I feel like I’m spinning my wheels….because really….I *am* making a difference. I’m doing everything I can for “that one”. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow…I commented in the wrong post!! Sorry!!!! …it’s been a long day! lol

    • i’ve had one of those days, too! 😉

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