How to Cook Tempeh


Get to Know Tempeh

Interested in soy foods? Consider trying tempeh. Tempeh is derived from cooked soy beans. While tofu has become a star of sorts, tempeh offers solid, healthy, delicious nutrition. Tempeh is a fermented food. Tempeh is made by fermenting boiled soybeans with Rhizopus oligosporus.
In Indonesia it is a staple food. Preparing tempeh involves inoculating cooked soy beans with a starter, which is then wrapped in banana leaves and left to ferment in the humidity. The beans are bound together by a ‘furry’ mushroom-like culture which has grown through them.

Basically tempeh is a cake of cooked soybeans, bound together by a white mycelium, similar to Camembert or Brie which have soft, white mantels. The spore culture is rhisopus oligosporus. The mold penetrates the beans and makes them more digestible. It results in a very nutritious product, high in vitamin B12, it is also a source of complete protein.

Good quality tempeh should be firm, dense and covered completely with white mycelium. It should have a pleasant, clean, subtly sweet or mushroom-like aroma.

Tempeh is often enjoyed fried. It can be marinated first, it can also be steamed and then incorporated into dishes.  Typical condiments used with tempeh are chilli, coconut milk, cucumber, and raw or steamed vegetables. Tempeh can also be pureed and used as a part of other dishes or baked goods. Keep tempeh refrigerated and use according to package directions. It can even be left unrefrigerated for about a day. Just wipe or rinse off any spores.  Dark spots on tempeh are signs of maturity and ‘increase nutrition and flavor’.

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food. For more info on tempeh, click here


Downes, John 1987. The Soy Source, 1987: A practical guide to cooking with soy foods.
image credit: brownie points

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