If you don’t know tempeh, let yourself be tempted by this vegetable substitute for meat which is gaining in popularity! Its unique taste and nutritional profile make it a food that you absolutely must discover.
Tempeh is made from soybeans, which belong to the legume family along with chickpeas and lentils. In Quebec (Canada), whether to prepare tofu or tempeh, we use yellow soybeans, which is not a GMO (genetically modified organism). Whole soybeans are cooked and crushed before being seeded with a fungus (Rhizopus oligosporus). It is therefore a fermented product: a plus for your intestinal health! During fermentation in a controlled environment, mould forms, similar to the mould on some cheeses. It is these moulds that give tempeh its whitish color and unique pronounced taste.
Tempeh has a complex umami flavor with mushroom and hazelnut aromas. If you wish to reduce its characteristic taste, you can marinate it before cooking or use a flavored tempeh.
From a nutritional point of view, tempeh is particularly interesting. It is a product derived from soy, one of the few vegetable proteins with a high biological value, i.e. containing all essential amino acids, as is the case with meat and rarely with other vegetable protein sources. Compared to tofu, tempeh contains up to 20% more protein. In addition, its fermentation process facilitates protein assimilation and increases the concentration and bioavailability of vitamins and minerals.
Since the soybean is used whole to prepare tempeh, tempeh also contains a good amount of fibre, whereas tofu contains no fibre at all. It also contains good fats and phytochemicals, such as phytosterols, which are known for their heart health benefits.
Tempeh has much more texture than tofu (made from curdled and pressed soy beverage). It is both firm under the fork and tender under the tooth. It is therefore a very interesting alternative to meat.
Tempeh should always be cooked before eating. You can sauté it in cubes, grill it in slices in a frying pan or on the barbecue, or steam a block and chop it.
It is a very versatile and tasty ingredient that can be eaten hot or cold in savory (pasta sauce, chili, tacos, shepherd’s pie, meatballs, hamburger patties, etc.) or sweet-salty (with maple syrup or pineapple, it’s a delight!) dishes.
A few tips to easily add tempeh to the menu :
1. Keep already cooked, plain or marinated and seasoned tempeh in the refrigerator to prepare sandwiches, wraps, lunch salads or express protein vegetable stir-fries.
2. To garnish your salads, prepare tempeh “croutons”: grill marinated tempeh cubes (e.g. Tempehine Spring Pleasure flavour) for a few minutes in a lightly oiled pan, then off the heat, coat them with garlic powder.
3. To make tasty sandwiches, mix cooked tempeh (e.g. Springtime Pleasure Tempehine flavour), coarsely chopped mayonnaise (vegan, if desired), dried cranberries and walnuts or sunflower seeds together.
4. Everybody loves skewers and it’s perfect for the lunch box! On skewers, alternate pre-cooked marinated tempeh cubes (e.g. Caribbean Tempehine flavour) with cucumber slices, peppers and pineapple chunks.
Both for its unique taste and nutritional profile, tempeh really deserves a place on the menu!