Tempeh This, Tempeh That, Tempeh What??

Tempeh is not a hugely popular ingredient. At least where I’m from. In fact, I hadn’t really tried tempeh until recently. And it’s not something you can find at most regular grocery stores (but can be found at many natural food stores).

Tempeh is a whole-soy, fermented product (I know, adding the adjective fermented to any food doesn’t sound too appetizing, work with me here) usually made by mixing soy and grains. Higher in fat, but a very healthful soy food option, it’s versital and can act as the “meat” of a meal, if you want to look at it that way. And, it contains complete protein AND fiber. Beat that, chicken, fish, or any other meat for that matter. Animal foods, in all forms, contain zelch-o, zero grams of fiber. I’ve tried various flavors, and to tell you the truth, can’t tell a huge difference between original tempeh and mult-grain tempeh.

Recently, wanting to branch out a bit (I mean really, I’m a bit embarrassed I hadn’t done much by way of cooking with tempeh before, what kind of vegan am I???!). I whipped out one of my favorite gourmet cookbooks, Dreena Burton’s Eat Drink & Be Vegan, and decided to experiment with this food previously unknown to me.

I made Sweet & Sour Chipotle Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes. Take a look, isn’t it pretty?
What I loved about this dish:

1. Sweet Potatoes. The perfect food, a little sweet, no fat, really no need to embellish this member of the tuber family, yet add a little sweet and sour sauce, bada-bing, bada-boom you’ve got something spectacular!

2. Chipotle. Give me more of this stuff. Love chipotle.

3. Brown rice. If you make it right, anyone will love it. Get a rice cooker, if you’re like me and it always turns out crunchy when you cook it over the stove, you must get a rice cooker. Bleh, no one likes crunching on things that are NOT supposed to be crunchy. Get a rice cooker, perfect rice, every time, promise.

4. The smell wafting out of my oven was DIVINE!

5. Did I mention there was pineapple in this dish? (Thanks Hawaii. You do an awesome job supplying us all with this amazing little spikey fruit).

I’m not going to post the recipe though. I know it seems awfully mean of me to post this without the recipe, but I think we all ought to support our vegan Julia Child and buy her book (you won’t regret it!) and get the recipe (and many delicious more).

As for the tempeh experiment, I haven’t done many more dishes with the stuff, but I like it. Good texture, flavor. I’ve noticed though, that it’s better to steam it for a bit, before you add it to dishes. This takes out the bitterness. Good replacement for chickens or cows in your stir-fry dishes.

I’d be interested to hear about your experience with tempeh. Have you tried it? Like it, hate it? Let me know.


  1. Jenni C
    on September 22, 2009 at 5:17 pm said:

    Tempeh is one of the things my whole family will eat. I use it to bulk up my spaghetti sauces. The first time I made it I quickly added it and threw away the package(like spiking the punch) because my family is very warry of anything healthy. They loved the spaghetti, then I told them what was in it and they were ok with tempeh from then on. Janae you are a cute writer, very spunky blog post 😉

  2. Melissa DeLeon
    on September 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm said:

    Ok. I think I see it now in the picture — immediately in front of the broccoli and cauliflower, right?After looking at images online, I also now understand what you mean about "whole-soy"! I didn't know you meant literally whole soybeans.Really interesting replacement "meat"!

  3. Deja
    on September 22, 2009 at 8:55 am said:

    I had this a-mazing tempeh with molasses sauce dish at my favorite healthy place around here. It was served with brown rice and kale, and it made me want to lick my plate. Haven't tried it at home, but this seems a good way to give it go. Loooovvvve Dreena Burton's book. Love it.

  4. ann
    on September 22, 2009 at 4:25 am said:

    We really like tempeh. It's good as a sub for chicken, like the chicken salad, and then stuff it in a pita or rice cake, or lettuce wrap. It's good in chili or instead of taco meat, too!

  5. Veganmothering
    on September 22, 2009 at 2:30 am said:

    Really? About the rice cooker? I'm astounded. I love my rice cooker, it's amazing. I'm a dismal failure on the stove. About the picture of tempeh…hmm, google it? Sorry, I didn't get it in the pic Melissa.

  6. tbsomeday
    on September 22, 2009 at 1:07 am said:

    couple more thingsi have yet to have much luck with a rice cooker…my rice comes out really well on the stovethe other 2 things are 2 HUGE MMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMM'S for two of your recipes i triedthe "chocolate chip yum yums" were yum yummyand the "peanut butter ice cream" was AWESOME!very similar to whitey's peanut butter revelmmmmm

  7. tbsomeday
    on September 21, 2009 at 10:47 pm said:

    mmmm, tempeh is a fav here.the all around desired recipe with tempeh for the kids is "messy tayla's"our take on sloppy joesi crumble the tempeh and steam itthen saute it in with onion and bbq sauce that i mix upthrow it on whole grain breadmmmand easyyour recipe looks awesome

  8. Melissa DeLeon
    on September 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm said:

    Re Brown Rice: I have a rice cooker, but prefer to cook it on the stove, because of the crunchy/undercooked nature the rice cooker creates. After reading the directions (i.e. boil the water FIRST then put in rice), I realized how easy it was on the stove. Also, I no longer add butter or salt when cooking my rice, as it doesn't add anything to the flavor, which makes them both pretty worthless "additives".Re Tempeh: what does it look like?!? I can see in your photo: rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and something that looks like a sauteed onion. Is that the Tempeh? (Maybe post a picture of the stuff in its natural state, aka packaging.)

  9. Veganmothering
    on September 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm said:

    I meant imported good (!).

  10. Veganmothering
    on September 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm said:

    Wow, really? I went to Hawaii on my honeymoon and went to the pineapple farms there, which we were told supply a large amount of the pineapples we consume here in the states. Either way, it's an exported good. But so delicious. Thanks for the info.

  11. Tia
    on September 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm said:

    Lurker here, but I just had to comment that next to none of our pineapple comes from Hawaii anymore. I just got back from there and was shocked to hear that even if you get pineapple in Hawaii at the Dole factory, it comes from Thailand!