You may have seen tempeh wedged into the refrigerated section of your grocery store next to the tofu, seitan, and other high-protein meat substitutes. While often overlooked, nutty, crumbly, and umami-rich tempeh is a multifaceted ingredient worth a second look.
Tempeh is a fermented product originally from Java, but now enjoyed all over the world. Like tofu, tempeh is most commonly made from soybeans. Unlike tofu (which is made from soy milk), tempeh is made with the entire soybean, giving the tempeh a unique flavor and texture. Because tempeh uses the entire soybean, tempeh generally tends to have more fiber and nutrients than tofu. While most tempeh in the United States is made with soybeans, any type of bean or grain can be fermented and made into tempeh.
There are many different uses for tempeh and it can be used in stir-fries, sandwiches, curries, stews, and rice dishes. Unlike other fermented foods, tempeh cannot be eaten raw so be sure to cook it before eating. We love tempeh sliced and fried until golden brown or crumbled, sauteed, and stirred into chilis or mushroom ragouts. Tehrene Firman has a great roundup of tempeh recipes that should help you get started from vegetarian BLTs to tempeh stuffed peppers to sesame tempeh bowls.
Next time you’re at the store be sure to grab some tempeh to add some umami-rich, protein-packed deliciousness to your next meal.