Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) is a popular Indonesian fermented or cultured food consisting of tender-cooked soybeans (or grains, pulses, seeds, or mixtures of these) bound together by a dense cottony mycelium of fragrant white Rhizopus mold into compact thick patties or cakes. The mould pre-digests the beans, binds them together, and greatly reduces required cooking time. Tempeh is made in a temperature controlled environment (incubator) at 27-32’C, similar to the tropical temperatures of Indonesia. Sold fresh, refrigerated, or most commonly frozen, these are usually sliced and pan fried until their surface is crisp and golden brown. Served this way, their delicious flavour and texture are most often compared to those of a hearty wild mushroom, fried chicken, or fish sticks. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, tempeh has been a basic staple food in Java, Indonesia. Fresh home-made tempeh is truly delicious, vastly superior to what is available commercially. We take pride in the culturing of this succulent delicacy
Full-bodied and satisfying, tempeh is unique in its ability to serve as a delicious main course at meals with a feeling remarkably like that of meat, chicken, or fish, and to become a key source of protein. Convenient in that it requires only a few minutes of cooking, tempeh is also remarkably versatile and can be used in hundreds of delicious recipes from Tempeh Burgers, Salads and Sandwiches to Tempeh Pizza, Lasagna or Wraps.
Fresh tempeh contains 19,5 percent protein, or over 50 percent more than a hamburger. Tempeh protein is complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids and is the highest quality found in any soyfood. Perhaps most important, tempeh is the richest known source of vegetarian vitamin B-12. Unlike most other protein foods, tempeh is entirely free of cholesterol and low in fats – especially saturated fats.
COOKING WITH TEMPEH
Many people have no idea what to do with tempeh! Tempeh compliments the full spectrum of our Sexy Food offering. We sell our tempeh frozen. The frozen tempeh can be steamed prior to marinating and cooking, or slow thawed in the fridge and then marinated and cooked. I very much enjoy tempeh marinated in sweet-sour-salty sauces, mixing honey, kombucha vinegar/ apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut or kimchi juice, miso and/or tamari, lemon, and sometimes hot chilli fermented sauce. I usually snack on some of the marinated tempeh raw, and then pan-fry the rest in coconut oil! Tempeh is equally good with just a sprinkle of natural salt and a squeeze of lemon, then pan fried with some coconut oil. When I’ve had batches of tempeh that don’t bind well, I like to crumble it into chilli concoction spreads, or make wonderful veg patties. Tempeh is fabulous with eggs and sauerkraut for a hearty breakfast. Once the frozen tempeh has been steamed or thawed, it can be sliced into 1cm thick patties or steaks, or cut into small pieces as salad croutons, then marinated and cooked to your liking. Homemade tempeh is so superb, so magnificent a food, so rich with its own flavours. Liberate yourself and experiment. Throw it into the mix of whatever you’re already cooking.
In Indonesia, it is typically cut into thin strips and fried, cubed and incorporated into coconut milk curry stews, or barbequed in sweet sauces. Often the strips are soaked and marinated before frying, in simple saltwater brine, sometimes spiced, sometimes with tamari, or in other marinades. In Indonesian cuisine, tempeh is often fried or simmered in a soup, with companions like hot peppers, coconut milk, lemongrass, and tamarind. Almost always it accompanies rice.
At ambient temperatures, and even in the refrigerator, tempeh can continue to ferment, darkening with sporulation and developing an intensifying aroma and flavour. Traditionally, tempeh is eaten and sold fresh, and considered highly perishable. In other words, this ferment is definitely not a strategy for preservation unless frozen. Tempeh is stored the same as we do with our veg patties. Much of tempeh produced for resale in the West is frozen, and in many cases pasteurized by steaming prior to freezing. In my own practice, I always eat some tempeh fresh and raw, as soon as I remove it from the incubation chamber. Then I store in the fridge only as much as I think will be eaten in a few days. To store it beyond a few days, I freeze the remainder of each batch. Well-wrapped tempeh can be stored in a freezer for at least six months, and keep all its pro-biotic qualities.