Tempeh is still unfamiliar to most people, so I decided to post information about this unique soy food. Here is information from Puget Consumer Co-ops, a group of health food stores in the Seattle area where I taught cooking classes in the late 1990s. The article, “Tempting Tempeh,” from which I gathered some of the information, is written by Goldie Caughlan, who was PCC’s Nutrition Educator when I lived in Seattle. (Goldie actually was the person who hired me as a cooking instructor and I enjoyed working with her and in the various teaching kitchens at PCC.) Their website is a good natural foods resource even if you do not live in Seattle area. It is: http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/ and here you can find many more tempeh recipes.
Tempeh (TEM-pay) is a traditional food in what is now Indonesia. While it was developed 40 centuries ago, it is basically made today as it was then: soak soybeans, chop them, cook them lightly, and then add a mycelium ( type of fungus) called Rhizopus Oligosporous.. The mixture is kept warm in trays for several hours of fermenting, resulting in a “block” of soybeans bound together by the mycelium.Â (See photo below.)
On the back of my package of tempeh that I purchased in Acme is the nutritional profile. (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, & other( health food) chains carry tempeh.) This package is actually three-grain tempeh, that is, in addition to the cultured, organic soybean base,Â organic brown rice, organic millet, and organic barley have been added. I have also bought tempeh with wild rice and tempeh with flaxseeds. Here is the profile for the three-grain tempeh:
Total fat: 11 grams (2g saturated fat; no trans fat, so this is “good” fat.)
Cholesterol: o grams
Sodium: 10 mg.
Potassium: 360 mg.
Total Carbs: 16 gr.
Dietary fiber: 9 gr.
Sugar: less than one gram
20 gr. protein
(Since I have read you can subtract fiber from the carbs, the net carbs are 7 gr.. And since this package serves two people, each person receives 3 1/2 gr. of carbs.)
Goldie Caughlan’s article agrees with the above: tempeh is high in protein and fiber as well as low in fat with no cholesterol. However, she notes that even though some books refer to tempeh as a good source of Vitamin B-12 (important for strict veggies/vegans), the B-12 found in tempeh is mostly inactive and vegetarians/vegans should not rely on tempeh for their B-12.
The article also provides helpful information on storage: Plain, unseasoned tempeh can be stored for as long as six months. The dark specks that may appear do not mean the tempeh is spoiled; it is just the spores from fermentation “blooming.” (There is a white binding web that encircles the tempeh and makes it firm.) Goldie notes that tempeh has a mild mushroom flavor, but I actually think it has its own unique taste, which I had to acquire. Tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for about one week, unopened. Below is a picture of the tempeh wrapping. This is the three-grain tempeh, but the packaging is the same for each flavor, with just the labeling different. (Trader Joe’s package is another color–orange, I think. es)
You can use tempeh in a variety of ways. It can be steamed, stir-fried, baked, and grated after steaming. (See my recipe for Tempuna Salad in Oct. 2008 posting.) Below is my recipe for marinated tempeh, which I then put on skewers and grilled at our condo pool. I don’t have a photo of the skewered tempeh, but the main recipe is the cutting and marinating of tempeh. After grilling it you can toss it with other veggies on the grill or use it in stir fries.
Utensils: Cutting board & knife; bowl for marinating; skewers soaked in water (optional, since you can place the pieces on a perforated pan that can go on the grill)
Prep. Time: about 10 minutes
Cooking Time: about 10 minutes on the grill, more for crispier results
Category: Gluten-Free for plain tempeh; my tempeh had barley in it. (Be sure to check the label if you need GF.)
Ingredients for Marinade:
one package of tempeh, cut into cubes. (See photos below the recipe.)
1/2 cup olive or macadamia oil
1 Tbl. tamari soy sauce (GF)
dash of ginger juice or 1 tsp. fresh ginger
1 Tbl. dijon mustard
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Place everything but the tempeh in a shallow bowl and mix well. Than add tempeh cubes and marinate several hours. Most of the marinade will be absorbed, but what isn’t can be reserved and poured over the grilled tempeh for extra flavor.
P.S. If you need more servings, you can always cut each cube in half through center, crosswise, making two thinner slices of tempeh. (See photo below.)
Note: Before I learned about tempeh, I relied only on tofu for baking & stir frying. However, tempeh uses the whole soybean, so I think it is a more nutritious product, since tofu is made from the “milk” of the soybean with no fiber. I still use tofu, but I have added tempeh to my weekly menus.