Versatile, High in Protein, & Scrumptious

Tempeh is a delicious meat alternative. It is rich in protein, versatile, and incredibly healthy. Plus, cooking it is quite simple. At first glance, honestly, tempeh may look like a brick wall, but it is actually made of soybeans. Therefore, in a dish it is often used as the protein source. Of course, there are also soy-free versions, in which the tempeh is then made with grains or other beans.

tempeh on plate

Tempeh vs. Tofu

It is more likely that you have heard of tofu, which is similar to tempeh in many ways. For one, they both come from soy, a product used in many plant-based foods since it is high in protein. If you are familiar with tofu, it’s likely you have eaten it paired with Asian flavored dishes such as stir-fries, Asain noodles, or panfried with a sauce. In that case, you can easily swap the tofu for tempeh since it will absorb the flavors as well and crisps up to a tee.
A significant difference between the two is the texture. While tofu is soft and filled with water, tempeh is quite firm. This comes from the fact that the ultimate difference is how they are made. Many consider tempeh a healthier option than tofu because of two reasons. One, it is less processed. You might have noticed you can still physically see beans in tempeh. Tofu, on the other hand, is not made from whole beans but rather soy milk.

Reason two, not only is tempeh less processed but it is also created through fermentation.Fermentation has an abundance of health benefits from prebiotics aiding healthy gut bacteria to boosting your immune system. But don’t get it wrong, they both have many health benefits. While tempeh is higher in iron, potassium, and fiber, tofu provides more calcium.

We do warn you that tempeh, along with its nuttier taste, can be more bitter than tofu. You can combat this with a nice sauce and take a look at how to cook it below. 

How to Cook Tempeh

Cooking tempeh is very simple. If you’re familiar with meat think of it as a slice of chicken. You can marinate it in sauce beforehand or just cook it with the sauce. The best methods are either frying it in a pan or baking it in the oven (or air fryer if you have it). Make sure you slice the block to your liking before you cook it though, whether that’s in thin strips, cubes, or crumbled up. 

tempeh sliced
Sliced tempeh
tempeh in pan
Fried tempeh

Tip: If you are having trouble with the bitterness try steaming the tempeh in 1-inch of water for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Then you can drain and pat it dry before you begin the actual process.

Best Recipes to Substitute Meat with Tempeh

If you are worried about your cholesterol or simply want to have a change, tempeh makes a great meat substitute. Crumbled-up, for instance, it can be used as a ground beef alternative which you can add to bolognese or use as a taco filling. If you slice it up into thin strips and dip it in some smoky BBQ-inspired sauce it can be a great bacon substitute. You can also cut into cubes and stick on a skewer to grill. So next time you are making a delicious meat dish, try simply swapping it out for tempeh. If it’s more of a soup or stew though, that is a place we may recommend tofu instead.

salad with tempeh

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