Tempeh sliced on a wooden board with lemon and garlic

Tips with Tempeh

If you’ve ever picked up a block of tempeh in a health food shop or supermarket and wondered what on earth to do with it, read on for tips with tempeh!

It may be funny looking stuff, but I promise that once you get the hang of cooking with it, you’ll quickly find it becomes a regular on the menu. Tempeh is a good source of protein and the dense texture is very satisfying, so it’s a good option for anyone trying to eat less meat.

Like tofu, tempeh is made from soy bean. However, tempeh is fermented and compacted into a dense cake with a chewy texture and a more robust flavour than tofu.

Tempeh used to be hard to find but now with brands such as Tiba, Pauls and Plant Power offering natural organic versions, you can usually find it in your local supermarket. Just a word of caution here: with the rise of veganism and a justifiable move away from meat, the plant based supermarket offering has got considerably larger. Unfortunately, the quality of the food on offer does not always match the quantity. Most of it is still highly processed, full of salt, preservatives and artificial flavourings that we want to be avoiding. So don’t fall for tempeh (or tofu) that has already been processed into something that looks tasty; buy the original tempeh and then make it delicious yourself!

Health benefits of tempeh

  • It contains more protein than tofu. 100g (half an average pack) delivers approximately 20g of protein, which is around the level we should be aiming for each meal
  • Because tempeh is fermented, it is rich in beneficial prebiotics that feed the healthy bacteria in the gut. Tempeh promotes good digestive health and reducing inflammation
  • The fermentation process breaks down the phytic acid in the soy beans which makes it easier for the body to digest and to absorb the minerals
  • It is a good source or fibre, iron and potassium
  • The calcium in tempeh makes it beneficial for bone density and preventing bone loss
  • Tempeh contains natural plant compounds called isoflavones which can be good for heart health, reducing triglycerides and cholesterol levels
  • Soy isoflavones have been shown to have antioxidant properties, which can help to protect us against many chronic diseases

Tips for preparing and cooking tempeh

  • Steaming cubed or sliced tempeh for 10 minutes will reduce any bitterness and prepare it beautifully for soaking up your favourite marinade. Tempeh is ready for you to marinade or cook without steaming, so leave it out if you’re pushed for time
  • Marinade tempeh (and tofu) with ingredients such as: tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos, vinegar or citrus juice, coconut milk, peanut butter, ginger, spices, chilli, harissa, garlic and if you want a little sweetness, add maple syrup or honey. It will take on the flavours of whatever you are cooking
  • Marinade the tempeh for at least 30 minutes (overnight even better). It’s a hearty and delicious protein to add to any meal. I tend to steam and marinade my tempeh in the morning while preparing breakfast or lunch. Then it’s ready when I come to cooking dinner
  • Crumble or grate. Use as an alternative to beef mince, or add to soups

Recipe ideas

  • Simply brown gently in a little olive oil. If marinaded, add that towards the end of cooking and reduce it down to a nice sticky sauce. Serve with brown rice and steamed veggies. Tempeh is also great as part of a veggie breakfast with eggs and tomatoes
  • Drizzle on a little olive oil and bake in an oven tray for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees C
  • Saute sliced onions and garlic until soft. Add a handful of sliced mushrooms and some reconstituted dried porcini for extra umami. Once nicely softened add the tempeh with its marinade and cook covered for 10 minutes to make a lovely rich stew
  • Toss into stir fries
  • It’s delicious browned in a pan and added to a bean or brown rice salad
  • Mix into a vegetable stew towards the end of cooking
  • Here are some fabulously tasty recipe ideas from Tiba and Plant Source:

Enjoy experimenting!