Tempeh (Tem-pay), is a fermented whole soybean , with a nutty taste and a unique flavor of fermentation. Although new to the West, it is very popular in vegetarian cooking as a replacement for meat.
It is known to reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopausal symptoms and promote muscle recovery. In addition to these amazing benefits, contains high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3 and B2, and a small amount of vit. B12.
It is also very high in calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones.
Tempeh is produced by a natural fermentation process. including soybeans (or other legumes and grains) and a mold (
Soybeans are cooked and mixed with the mold Oligosporus Rhizopus, let ferment for 24-36 hours, when the beans are bound by a white mycelium into a firm patty.
Tempeh is a high-protein, low in fat and cholesterol food, perfect for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking for a low-fat and heart-healthy source of protein.The use of whole soybeans give it more dietary fibers, proteins and vitamins than tofu .
The fermentation process itself, creates such conditions that provide:
Tempeh has a nutty, “earthy” flavor, which becomes more noticeable as it ages. It has a firm texture which doesn’t easily crumble, like tofu does. Its ability to take on many flavors and textures makes it a great substitute for meat products.
Tempeh can ideally be included in a vegan/vegetarian diet on a regular basis, as well as to substitute animal origin products, in order to minimize their consumption and exposure to their negative effects on health and environment.
In order to halt the fermentation process and minimize the bitter taste, it is best advisable to either boil or steam Tempeh for at least 10 minutes. The best way to cook tempeh is to use 2 different cooking methods (e.g. sautéing and boiling).
Our favourite Basic Recipe is:
Steamed and panfried Tempeh
Steam the whole cake for 15-20 minutes, cut the quantity you need and keep the rest refrigerated . Cut in cubes/triangles, sticks etc and sauté in oil for 2 minutes. Add 2 parts water, 1 part Soy sauce/Tamari, 1 part Mirin/sweet wine/ Rice malt/sweetener, 1 piece of kombu and cook for 3-4 minutes until it absorbs the liquids.
Also, after steaming/boiling, you can marinade it or use it in your favourite recipe (sauce, gravy, spices etc) to mix in the flavors. Try adding some to a stir fry instead of tofu, or crumble as minced meat, finely chop it up and add it into soups, in pasta sauces or as a side dish for whole grains made into a gravy. Also deep fry for a richer taste and crispier texture.
Fresh, raw tempeh can keep in the fridge for a least 2 weeks, where it continue to age, adopting a deeper flavor like aged cheese. Steaming before refrigerating can reduce maturation process. In the freezer it can keep for about 3 months.
Tempeh is more resistant to lipid oxidation than unfermented soybeans, due to its antioxidant contents.