What the Heck is Tempeh?

Block and Slices of Tempeh

Finding itself on the plates of vegans everywhere, tempeh is being classified as a healthy, super food worthy of your attention — even if you don't normally eat meat. Native to Indonesia, tempeh is a soy-based protein similar to tofu that is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Available in fermented patty form tempeh is easier to digest than many other beans. Its fermented nature is one of the advantages tempeh has over its cousin tofu. Tempeh is made from the whole soybean and undergoes very little processing, while tofu is heavily processed.

How to Prepare Tempeh

  • Marinated - Tempeh is one of those foods that tastes like what surrounds it. Take advantage of this neutral palate by marinating tempeh before tossing it in noodles, rice, or salad. Suggested sauces: soy, teriyaki, curry, garlic, or rice wine vinegar.
  • Sauteed, Grilled, or Pan-Fried - Tempeh can be thinly sliced and serve as meat on sandwiches or in wraps. Marinate, sautee' and then wrap pieces of this protein in spinach for a delicious lunch.
  • Baked - Toss tempeh pieces in balsamic vinegar, tamari, garlic, olive oil, maple syrup, and thyme and let the flavors meld for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees for a dish bursting with goodness.
  • Stewed - Chop tempeh and add to your favorite soup or stew recipes.

Other differences from its more popular counterpart include a firm, chewy texture where tofu is smooth and spongy. Health benefits of this food range from antibiotic properties to strengthening bones. Although fairly new in American cuisine, it is truly worth considering as a beneficial protein — with 15 grams in a half cup serving — added to a variety of dishes.


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