Tempeh: a Delicious & Versatile High-Protein Vegan Food

By Erik Marcus

Tempeh and tofu both begin with the letter T, they’re both vegan, they both originated in Asia, and they are both loaded with protein. Although far more people know about tofu than tempeh, you shouldn’t miss out on trying either of these soy-based foods. Both can play starring roles in an endless assortment of satisfying dishes.

Much less perishable than tofu, tempeh can stay fresh in your refrigerator for weeks. It’s worth keeping a package or two in your refrigerator so you’ll always have some on hand.

What is Tempeh?

Indonesian monks invented tempeh centuries ago. As vegetarians, they were in search of a satisfying and nutrient-rich meat replacement. It’s a cultured food, made from soybeans. Some varieties are mixed with rice or other grains. During culturing the soybeans bind together. The finished product comes in sheets a little more than a centimeter thick.

Many people shy away from tempeh because they don’t know how to prepare it. The most popular prep method is to cut it into thin strips, about half the length of a finger, then sauté each side over low heat until just golden. Then add the strips to a tomato sauce immediately before serving over pasta. Tempeh sautéed in this manner is also great in stir-fries.


Tempeh Sandwich
Grilled tempeh topped with barbecue sauce makes a delicious and satisfying sandwich.

Give tempeh a try since it can open the door to a number of great recipes. Tempeh has a unique nutty and slightly bitter taste, and it soaks up marinade easily to take on the flavor of your recipes’ accompanying ingredients.

You can find tempeh right next to the tofu in the refrigerated section of most natural food stores. Tofurky makes a pre-marinated sliced tempeh that you can sautée to perfection in minutes.

Related pages: tofu, vegan meats, and vegan protein sources.
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