Tempeh is a delicious and nutritious substitute for meat, and something you’re definitely going to want to try if you’re interested in eating a more plant-healthy diet. I’m going to explain exactly what it is, what it tastes like, what it looks like, and how to use it in cooking.
What The Heck Is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a minimally processed ‘whole’ soybean product. It’s made by taking whole soybeans, partially cooking them and then putting them through a culturing or fermentation process which binds them together into a cake form (or a block). The natural flavor of tempeh is mild and a little earthy, maybe even a bit nutty. That is of course, until it’s either seasoned or marinated in some way for additional flavor.
People often wonder what the difference is between tofu and tempeh, being that they’re both made from soybeans. Tempeh is actually less processed than tofu and has more natural flavor. Tempeh is also more firm and chewy than tofu – in fact structurally it’s quite close to meat, which makes it is a good meat replacement in many dishes. Nutritionally speaking it’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and several other important nutrients. Additionally, there are some studies that indicate it may be helpful in reducing internal inflammation, though more research needs to be done on that department.
Shopping for It
(If you’d like to see what tempeh looks like up close and how it’s packaged, just watch the video above.) When shopping for tempeh, you want to be sure and purchase a brand that says either organic or non-GMO on the packaging as soybeans are the most genetically modified crops in existence. Where to find it at your grocery store? It will be in a refrigerated section, and is often times located near the produce. You may need to ask one of the store’s staff members for a little guidance. Go ahead and feel free to stock up because it freezes really well. To defrost, just take it out of the freezer the day before you want to use it (or morning of) and stick it right in the refrigerator to let it thaw – you’ll be good to go!
To cook with it… if you purchase the (non-sliced) block you’re simply going to slice it into strips, about 1/4″ thick or so (or slightly thinner). If you bought the strips you’re already good to go. You’ll then fry it on each side about 2 to 3 minutes until it’s golden brown – over medium heat. Once it’s done you can either cut it into bite-sized pieces or you can take your fingers and crumble it into little tiny pieces depending on what you’re going to use it for.
Tempeh is delicious in soups, salads, and sandwiches. You can even make yourself a BLT-style sandwich but I guess it would be called a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, tomato) – in fact you can buy maple-bacon flavored tempeh, which would be great on that type of sandwich. You can season/marinate plain tempeh any way you’d like – it soaks up flavor really nicely.
Give It a Try!
Tempeh is definitely one of my favorite foods. I hope you’ll give it a try, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions or favorite tempeh recipes of your own – share in the comments section below, or via my contact page!
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