When we talk about vegan protein, we immediately think about tofu or beans. But do you know that there can be another tasty star in your Meatless Monday routine? Tempeh has gained popularity in both vegan and non-vegan restaurants in the past years. Not only is it vegan and healthy, but by cooking it the right way, it can be a star dish even meat lovers will love. Here’s your ultimate tempeh guide to help you in your vegan journey.
What is tempeh made of?
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, it is less processed than the latter. Tofu is a product of soaking, crushing, and boiling the soybeans to separate the curds, which will become the tofu, from the whey. Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from whole soybeans that are cooked and slightly fermented. This fermentation process makes the starches in tempeh more easily digestible, add healthy probiotics to the product, and give it that firm, veggie-burger texture.
Where does tempeh come from?
Indonesians have been cooking and eating tempeh for thousands of years. It is a nutrient- and protein-dense food that was first mentioned in the Javanese history volume. It then became commonplace in vegetarian and vegan cooking in recent years.
How to cook tempeh
Tempeh has a mild savory, nutty, earthy flavor that’s comparable to mushrooms. Now that it’s becoming more popular, you can get it in any supermarket in the Whole Foods section. You can get it in regular, multigrain, flax, and other varieties depending on your preference. If it’s your first time cooking tempeh, it’s best to start with the classic soy variety and try different ones as you learn more recipes.
The easiest way to cook your tempeh is by steaming it. This will remove a lot of the bitterness and will make your tempeh soft and ready to absorb any flavor you add into it. You can either use a steamer or place your cut tempeh in a paper towel and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Afterward, you can dip them in sauce, add them to stew, or toss them with stir-fried vegetables.
Just like firm tofu, you can create hearty sauces with tempeh. And because tempeh is made from whole soybeans, they have a “meatier” taste and texture than tofu. Just crumble them on your stew or sauce. By absorbing all the taste from the other ingredients, your humble, mildly bitter tempeh can make your ragu or chili even tastier.Here’s a useful tip: fry your crumbled tempeh in a bit of vegetable oil to get more flavor out of it, and to achieve that golden-brown crust that contains all the extra flavors of a meaty sauce.
If you’ve been cooking tempeh for a while now, try pan-frying or baking your tempeh to get golden-brown chunks of flavor. You can cut them in strips, slabs, or cubes depending on the dish you’re making. With this method, you can have a tasty meat substitute for your favorite sandwiches, salads, and stir-fries. Vegan cooking doesn’t have to be boring. Vegan products are now more readily available anywhere. And with the proper ingredients and the right recipe, you can have delicious, nutritious, and more affordable meals that are sustainable both for yourself as well as the environment.
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