I am well aware that at least 50 percent of my readers saw the title and either a.) deleted their email notification without reading any more or b.) have already clicked away from the page, completely scared of the word “tempeh”.
The rest of you are either humoring me and reading with eyebrows raised or are in the minority and realize that tempeh is not a scary word or food that should be limited to the hippie health nuts of the world. (Not that there is anything wrong with hippie health nuts. I love them.)
I understand being weary of tempeh; for the longest time I didn’t even bother to learn more about it. Exploring tofu was enough for me. Tofu, with its weird texture and flavor. Whoever says tofu doesn’t have a taste isn’t tasting the same food I am. It has a taste. And it doesn’t taste good.
You need lots of sauce and flavoring to disguise that tofu taste and you really need to know how to cook it well to get rid of that icky texture. Ugh. I had no desire to delve into yet another soy food that I’d have to work so hard in order to create a decent-tasting meal.
But then I opened my ears, just a little, and started hearing little snippets of information that I couldn’t ignore.
It has a dense, chewy texture.
Hmmmm…really? Are you sure?
Tempeh is made from whole soybeans.
Nice. A whole food. Processed soy isn’t great for your health.
Tempeh is fermented soy.
Okay, I’m paying attention. Fermented foods are easier to digest, help us absorb nutrients, and help balance out the good bacteria in our guts.
Tempeh is a protein powerhouse and is high in fiber, manganese, and copper, and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
I heard these things and decided I needed to give tempeh a try before judging based on its cousin, tofu.
So I looked for it at the grocery store to find out it was only $1.69 per 8 ounce package. Say what?! That’s significantly less than the organic chicken it was going to replace that week.
My first attempt at cooking tempeh was this summer. I slathered it in barbeque sauce and grilled it up. The result? I was completely floored. I loved the texture. Nothing like tofu. It absorbed the barbeque flavor and imparted its own nutty flavor that I liked. I was a tempeh convert.
I hope I’ve convinced those of you who are still reading that tempeh needs to be propelled out of its obscurity and onto your dinner plate. Here’s a thai-flavored variety to get you started. Maybe you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.Print
I served this with a quickly-thrown-together peanut sauce of 1 cup peanuts+1/2 cup shredded coconut, 3/4 cup lite coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 tablespoon tamari. I blended all of the ingredients and then heated it on the stove. I added a little cayenne pepper to my individual portion for a some kick.
Meghan’s plate looked like this:
Tempeh nuggets with peanut dipping sauce, broccoli, frozen wild blueberries, and cheese. I cut her nuggets smaller to make them easier to pick up and dip. She, of course, at all of the blueberries and cheese first. Then she ate some of the broccoli and tempeh nuggets. I have trouble getting her to eat meat, and she seemed to like these more than chicken, so I was happy with that.
In case you are wondering, here’s what my plate looked like:
Tim wasn’t home the night I made this, but he’s liked tempeh when I’ve made it before. I find it much more man-friendly than tofu.
Give it a try. I think you’ll be as surprised with tempeh as I was.
Question: Have you ever tried tempeh? Like or dislike?