Tempeh Properties and Cooking uses

Tempeh is one of the most traditional foods in vegetarian cuisine.  It has been consumed in Indonesia for about 1,000 years.  The fermentation that occurs during the production process of this nutritious food, converts any legume used in it, into a healthy, delicious, and versatile ingredient.
Yellow tempeh.

How is tempeh made?

Making tempeh consists of fermenting ground and compacted soy beans.  Generally, tempeh can be made with other legumes, seeds, or grains, even coconut is used in some industries to make tempeh.

Tempeh in the kitchen, and basic preparation

Tempeh has a delicious taste, and a texture similar to that of tofu.  It is partially soft, but firm, which makes for easy cutting, making fillets or other presentations.  Basic tempeh preparation consists in cooking and entire piece of it for approximately 20 minutes, with water, a bit of soy sauce, a piece of kombu seaweed, a few drops of lemon, and aromatic herbs, to taste.

After this basic preparation, the tempeh is ready to eat by itself, or to go directly into stews, fried with vegetables, cooked au gratin, or added to salsas or dressings.  You can also add it to soups or stews, salads, appetizers, quesadillas, pizza, spaghetti, sandwiches, etc.  This is a truly versatile food; it can be cooked several different ways, it can be ground, made into a puree or marinated as a main dish.  It absorbs vegetable and condiment flavors very well of the foods it is served with. 

Nutrition values

Tempeh contains a lot of nutrition from the fermentation process.  This is the same process used to make cheeses, yogurt, sauerkraut, and sour cream.

Soy tempeh contains approximately:

  • 19.5% high quality protein.  It is favorably compared to chicken (21%), red meat (20%), eggs (13%), and milk (3%).
  • Has very few calories, roughly 157 calories per 3.5 oz.  It is naturally low in fat and does not contain cholesterol.
  • Tempeh is very easily digestible, because of the enzymes produced during fermentation.
  • Contains a large amount of B group and B12 vitamins.
  • Helps growth.
  • Contains natural antioxidants that prevent soy fats from turning rancid.
  • Biologically preserves vitamin E.

Tofu is a natural food, is not a textured vegetable protein, and is a whole food.  It can be found in health food stores.

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