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If you’re wondering ‘what is tempeh’ you’ve come to the right place! In this post, you’ll learn all about this great plant-based protein and how-to make my favourite easy tempeh marinade. This recipe is quick and delicious. It’s the perfect addition to a salad or stir-fry. Or just for snacking!
What Is Tempeh
Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) is a plant-based protein that originated in Indonesia. In fact, the first time I ever had tempeh was on a trip to Bali in 2012. This was long before I was eating a plant-based diet, and I had no idea what it was I was eating. But I loved the tender texture and nutty flavour.
I later found out, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been formed into a block, using mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus). The word tempeh refers to the whole collective of fermented legume-based foods, and not only that which are made from soybeans. So tempeh can also be fermented grains, seeds or nuts.
The best way I can describe tempeh is nutty and savoury. Though it’s made of soybeans, it has a completely different texture and flavour than tofu. It’s also much more dense and chewy than tofu.
However, the one similarity it does have to tofu is that it also takes on whatever flavour it is marinated or cooked in. It quickly absorbs flavour and holds its shape well when cooked.
How To Cook Tempeh
Tempeh cooks very quickly, but there is one key first step you must take. Steam or par-boil your tempeh first. Do not skip this step!
This is so essential. Par-boiling your tempeh removes the bitterness that sometimes comes from the fermented soybeans. It also makes your tempeh really nice and tender. You only need to par-boil tempeh for 1-2 minutes before preparing it for cooking.
To par-boil or steam your tempeh, follow these steps:
Remove tempeh from packaging
Place in a small to medium sized pan
Cover with water
Place on element on high heat and cover with a lid
Once water starts to boil, let tempeh par-boil for 30 seconds
Flip and par-boil for another 30 seconds on the other side
Remove from water and prepare for cooking
Now, you can cook your tempeh! I suggest first marinading it and then either baking or frying it. Baking is my preference as it is easier, less messy and uses less (or no) oil. So healthier too!
Savoury Tempeh Marinade
The reason why you’ll love this quick and easy tempeh marinade is because it’s only 5 ingredients! All you need to make this marinade is:
Soy sauce or tamari
Oil (olive oil or avocado work best but any vegetable oil works in this recipe)
Plus, you really only need to marinade the tempeh for 10 minutes max. It absorbs flavour so quickly that it doesn’t need to sit for long. No need to prep the night before or be well prepared. This baked tempeh marinade can be made while you’re prepping dinner. It’s a win win.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and prep a baking sheet with a layer or aluminum foil.
2. First, par-boil your tempeh. Remove from packaging and place in a small to medium sized frying pan. Cover with water. Avoid filling the pan full right to the top with water so it doesn’t boil over. You need just enough water that the tempeh is slightly covered.
3. Next, place pan on element on high heat and cover. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, set timer to 30 seconds and then flip tempeh and boil for another 30 seconds. You don’t want to boiling tempeh for too long or it will begin to lose its firmness.
4. Remove heat and remove tempeh from water using tongs or a spatula. Place on a cutting board and cut into 1 inch cubes. For one block of tempeh, this will be about 25-30 cubes.
5. Now, make your 5 ingredient marinade. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl or shallow dish. Whisk to combine.
6. Add tempeh into marinade. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure entire cube is covered in marinade. The tempeh will quickly absorb the marinade so no need to let it sit for a long period of time.
7. Remove tempeh cubes from marinade and place on aluminum-covered baking sheet. Place in oven on the centre rack.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip and bake for another 8-10 minutes. To crisp up tempeh even more, keep it in the oven for an additional 30-45 seconds on broil, keeping a close eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
9. Remove your baked tempeh and let cool before serving. This marinated tempeh goes great with salads, stir-fry or buddha bowls. Enjoy!
Cut tempeh into long strips instead of cubes if using in a sandwich or wrap.
For extra flavour, add some additional spices to the marinade, such as cumin, onion powder or chilli flakes.