Tempeh (Tem-pay), is a fermented whole soybean, with a nutty taste and a unique flavor of fermentation. Although new to the West, it is very popular in vegetarian cooking as a replacement for meat.
It is known to reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopausal symptoms and promote muscle recovery. In addition to these amazing benefits, it contains high levels of vitamins B, B5, B6, B3 and B2, and a small amount of vit. B12.
It is also very high in calcium as well as beneficial isoflavones.
How is it made
Tempeh is produced by a natural fermentation process. including soybeans (or other legumes and grains) and a mold (Oligosporus Rhizopus). Soybeans are cooked and mixed with the mold and let ferment for 24-36 hours. When the beans are bound by a white mycelium into a firm patty, tempeh is ready.
Tempeh is a high-protein, low in fat and cholesterol food, perfect for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking for a low-fat and heart-healthy source of protein. The use of whole soybeans gives it more dietary fibers, proteins, and vitamins than tofu.
The fermentation process itself creates such conditions that provide:
- Ready to use protein
Converts the proteins into amino acids, making it easier for the system to assimilate its protein content. Protein content: 19gr/100gr serving = 38% of daily protein needs!
- Nutrient wealth
Minimizes oligosaccharides and phytic acid in soy, making Tempeh easily digestible. Its high digestibility makes available many nutrients, which otherwise would not be assimilated. Minerals in tempeh.
- calcium and copper, increase bone density and healing
- iron, helps increasing red blood cells
- manganese is an assisting nutrient for many processes, such as bone mass formation, antidiabetic, hormonal balancer.
- niacin (vit B3), lowers risk of cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases
- Alleviate menopausal symptoms since, soy tempeh is rich in isoflavones, which also benefit cardiovascular health.
- Rich in probiotics
Produces beneficial probiotics that protect the intestines against pathogenic agents like salmonella and E coli. As promoters of digestive function, probiotics contribute to better immune function, mineral, and vitamin absorption, heal leaky gut syndrome, prevent cancer and inflammatory diseases, fight diarrhea, candida and indigestion.
- Energy storehouse
Rich in vit B complex (B2, B3, B5, B6, little B12) which promotes good nervous function, aids digestion, energy provision, immune function, blood formation.
How to use/Recipes
Tempeh has a nutty, “earthy” flavor, which becomes more noticeable as it ages. It has a firm texture which doesn’t easily crumble as tofu does. Its ability to take on many flavors and textures makes it a great substitute for meat products.
Tempeh can ideally be included in a vegan/vegetarian diet on a regular basis, as well as to substitute animal origin products, in order to minimize their consumption and exposure to their negative effects on health and environment.
As a fermented product, tempeh is not pasteurized. Therefore, it needs to be cooked in order to neutralize the action of the microorganisms that create it. It is one thing to eat tempeh and another to eat the fungi that creates it. In Indonesia, where tempeh comes from, it is NEVER eaten raw. Indonesians know better… Also, the cooking process eliminates potential unwanted microorganisms (remember? it is not pasteurized).
In order to halt the fermentation process and minimize the bitter taste, it is best advisable to either boil or steam Tempeh for at least 10 minutes. The best way to cook tempeh is to use 2 different cooking methods (e.g. boiling and sautéing or steaming and frying).
Our favorite Basic Recipe is:
Steamed and pan fried Tempeh
Steam the whole piece for 15-20 minutes, cut the quantity you need and keep the rest refrigerated. Cut in cubes/triangles, sticks etc and sauté in oil for 2 minutes. Add 2 parts water, 1 part Soy sauce or Tamari, 1 part Mirin or sweet wine/ Rice malt/sweetener, 1 piece of kombu and cook for 3-4 minutes until it absorbs the liquids.
Alternatively, after steaming/boiling you may marinade it or use it in your favorite recipe (sauce, gravy, spices etc) to mix in the flavors.
Try adding some to a stir fry instead of tofu, or crumble it as minced meat in pasta sauces, finely chop it up and add it into soups, or use it as a side dish in gravy for whole grains.
Deep fry for a richer taste and crispier texture.
Fresh, raw tempeh can be kept in the fridge for at least 2 weeks, where it continues to age, adopting a deeper flavor like aged cheese. Steaming before refrigerating can reduce the maturation process. In the freezer it can keep for about 3 months.
Tempeh is more resistant to lipid oxidation than unfermented soybeans, due to its antioxidant contents.