I can’t remember when or how I was introduced to tempeh.
Tempeh, I find, has a nutty, mushroom-like taste. Which I like. And it’s a hearty, source of vegetarian protein too. It originated in Indonesia and is made of whole soy beans that have been soaked, cooked and fermented with the rhizopus oligosporus bacteria. The fermentation process binds the beans into a firm ‘cake’, and makes the soy easier to digest.
In Australia, tempeh is usually sold in vacuum-sealed packs, in the shape of a thin rectangular-shaped block of about 200–300g. I buy it from an organic food store, but you should be able find it in the fridge section of most health food stores and some supermarkets. Thankfully, it’s usually organic too, so you don’t need to worry about genetically modified soy. But just check to be sure.
I enjoy cooking with tempeh. It’s easy to handle. The texture, while being firm, is slightly spongy. This makes it ideal for marinating — it soaks up all the yummy flavours. Tempeh does rely on other ingredients for flavour, otherwise it’s bland without. Tempeh also freezes well. I usually defrost in the fridge overnight to cook the next day.
I use tempeh in the simplest of simplest ways. I either pan-fry it into crispy squares of goodness and toss them through fried rice, salads or sautéed veggies, or I mash it with other ingredients and turn it into a substantial veggie patty.
Let’s have it with some sautéed green veggies today.
Enough for 2
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- coconut oil, enough to generously coat the base of your fry pan + 2 tbsp extra
- 150 g tempeh, sliced into thin pieces
- tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), to taste
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 15 g ginger, minced or finely grated
- ½ tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
- 5 heaped cups greens, chopped/shredded (I used kale, snow peas & bok choy; other options: broccoli, cabbage, silverbeet)
- sea salt, to taste
First, lightly dry toast the sesame seeds in a small fry pan over medium heat. Shake the pan regularly. Once you have a lightly golden colour, tip the seeds into a small plate and set aside.
Next, heat coconut oil in a fry pan — generously coating the base of the pan — and fry the tempeh over medium–high heat for about 3 minutes each side until golden. Before turning off the heat, drizzle about a teaspoon of tamari over the tempeh and quickly stir the tempeh as the tamari sizzles, so you coat all the pieces. (Note: You may need to fry the tempeh in a couple of batches, depending on how large your fry pan is.) Spoon the tempeh onto a plate lined with a sheet of paper towel, and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in large wide-based saucepan or fry pan. Gently fry the onions until translucent and add the ginger and chilli. Sauté for about another minute, then add the greens. Continue to sauté until the greens are cooked to you liking. Then add the fried tempeh and season to your taste using tamari and/or sea salt. Serve with brown rice or quinoa and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.
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