Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mofo - Day 5 - Touting Tempeh!

Another fine source of protein made from the mighty soy bean is tempeh. Tempeh is produced by the controlled fermentation of cooked soybeans with a Rhizopus culture also called a tempeh starter. Sound like a science project? Maybe! But the results are delicious and nutritious. The fermentation process produces some great anti-oxidants. The fermented cakes are also a complete protein. Each 4 oz serving has a whopping 20 g of protein! Tempeh has a bit of a nutty flavor and a very interesting firm and chewy texture that lends itself to working in many types of recipes. It is sold in cakes in many stores these days. Again try to find organic non-GMO types. Below is one brand I love.

One important thing I have found with tempeh is that it is truly best if you steam it for 10 minutes before using it in recipes. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it seems to make the tempeh "pores" open up, making it absorb flavors better, but more importantly it can take out some of the slight bitter flavor tempeh can have. Now, there are times when I don't steam it, for instance, when it is marinated for extended periods of time. Even then, I am always tempted because I want that marinade to soak in.

My first experience with tempeh was several years ago. There was a great little tea house in Scottsdale called the Mandala Tea Room (sadly they closed their doors several years ago). They had a TLTA (Tempeh, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado) Sandwich on the menu. I was still far from veg, but was trying to eat healthier, so a bacon alternative was very intriguing to me. I hate to use a cliche, but it was truly love at first bite!!!

Today I want to share with you my favorite tempeh bacon-ish recipe. It is not going to fool anyone into thinking it is the actual fatty nasty original, but it is awesome in its own rite. This one comes from Joanna Vaught, the illustrious author of Yellow Rose Recipes. This recipe and lots of other awesome recipes are included in her awesome 'zine Potluck Mania!

Maple Ginger Tempeh Strips

by Joanna Vaught

 8 oz. tempeh
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup peanut oil
2" knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 teaspoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/4 - 1/2 cup veggie broth

Slice Tempeh into 10-12 - 1/4 inch thick and 8" long strips.

In a long container with a cover whisk together all ingredients except for the tempeh. Gingerly slip tempeh strips into the marinade, being careful not to break them. If the marinade does not completely cover the strips, add a bit more broth.

Marinate for at least 8 hours and up to a week.

When you're ready to cook the strips, heat a nonstick, heavy-bottomed fry pan over medium eat. There is not need to add any oil because of the oil in the marinade. Add as many strips as will fit the pan (or how ever many you need). Allow to fry for 2-3 minutes, until they are dark brown. When they are dark enough, flip the strips.

Whisk the remaining marinade in the container and then, using a teaspoon, drizzle the marinade over the strips, "sealing" the strips. Saute until the second side is dark brown. Serve immediately.

I also love to cut them into cubes and use them as a smoky tempeh crouton on salads. The left over marinade is a good base for a smoky dressing for the very same salad!

I hope you try Joanna's awesome recipe and fall in love like I did!


  1. Oh! I remember testing that recipe! I think it ended up in one of the zines after she decided to scrap a second book. Potluck Mania #1 maybe?

    Tempeh is so good. It was one of those vegan foods that I was sketched out by initially... I had one bad experience and didn't give it another try for way too long.

  2. This looks so tasty! I love tempeh - I actually like the slightly bitter flavor, and I like the texture better if I don't steam it. In addition to all the great stuff you mentioned, it seems to also be easier to digest for people who have trouble eating soy normally...some of my friends who are soy-sensitive have no problem eating tempeh even if they can't eat tofu or other soy products. Thanks for posting this awesome tribute to the oft-underappreciated fermented soybean cakes!

  3. mmm, I think I like tempeh even more than tofu and am always looking for different ways to cook it, this looks great!

  4. Mmmm, I love tempeh. This recipe looks like it would be pretty amazing wrapped up with some lettuce and tomato, yum.

  5. @ cold and sleepy - I had forgotten she put it in the 'zine!!!

    @ choirqueer - I didn't realize it was more easily digestable than 'fu. I may just mention that in tomorrow's post!

    I will be posting another delicious preparation tomorrow! It would be great wrapped up or along side tofu scramble!!!

  6. That looks so yummy! Will make. I love tempeh sausage in gravy over biscuits.

  7. Oh celyn that sounds like a delish breakfast!!!