Tempeh is unfortunately not too easily found in the UK, even in health food stores. But I’ve fallen in love with the stuff so on a recent order from Goodness Direct (I buy all my raw nuts and seeds, dried beans etc. from here as it’s great value and you can buy in larger quantities than elsewhere) I bought several packages to keep handy in the freezer.
Although tempeh, like tofu, is made from soy beans, it’s quite different. Tempeh is made from whole cooked fermented soy beans whereas tofu is made from coagulated soymilk. Tempeh is generally firmer and chewier and is mildly flavourful on its own, unlike tofu. As tempeh is less processed it’s also considered healthier, with even more protein than tofu (approx 18g per/100g) and high levels of calcium and iron.
If you haven’t tried it yet or aren’t a fan of tofu I’d definitely suggest giving tempeh a go. Both have a place in my kitchen.
Some find the flavour to be a little bitter straight out of the package but steaming it can help. Simply place sliced tempeh in a saucepan and cover with water or vegetable broth. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the tempeh and proceed with marinating, grilling, baking, or however you’re preparing it.
This recipe is a nice introduction to tempeh as it’s not particularly complicated and the ginger and garlic mean the tempeh flavour doesn’t come through hugely strongly.
If you can get hold of water chestnuts I highly recommend them in this dish, their sweet flavour and crispy texture really worked for me.
Ginger Cashew Tempeh + Sugar Snap Peas:
1C Broccoli, broken into florets (don’t throw away the stalks! Just dice them up and throw them in too)
1C Sugar snap peas
1/2T neutral oil + 1/2T Toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 225g/8oz pkg Tempeh, cubed [pre-steamed if desired, see note above]
1/2T Minced fresh ginger
2 Cloves garlic
1/4t Chili flakes
1/2 225g/80z Can water chestnuts, sliced thinly
1T Tamari or Bragg’s
1/2T Rice vinegar
1/2-1C Vegetable broth (I use Marigold Vegan Bouillon)
1T Flour (any)
Noodles (pictured are Clearspring Organic Udon), or Rice to serve
Prepare your noodles or rice first as the stir-fry is quick to come together
Steam Broccoli and Sugar Snaps for a few minutes until bright green and tender, set aside in a bowl.
Heat oils in a large pan or wok over medium-high and when hot add tempeh. Toss frequently and when it’s a little brown on all sides add cashews and continue to cook until golden. Add tempeh and cashews to the bowl with your vegetables.
In the same hot wok add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute before adding the remaining ingredients, except for the flour. As it begins to bubble gradually whisk in the flour- it should thicken up the sauce fairly quickly. At this point, if you prefer it a little more saucy add a touch more water, but not too much as you don’t want to dilute the flavours.
Toss in reserved vegetables, tempeh and cashews, mix to coat in sauce and warm through.
Serve over noodles or rice.
Have you cooked with tempeh before? What do you think?