You’ve probably wondered, “What does tempeh taste like?” The answer is bland and cheesy, but it’s a very personal choice. Traditionally, this grain and soy protein substitute is sliced and deep-fried or marinated in various flavors and served with chili paste. You can also eat it steamed, marinated, or crumbled into sauces. While it’s blander and chewier than tofu, it’s packed with health benefits.
The first thing to know about tempeh is that it’s similar to a steak, with a nutty, slightly savory taste. Once marinated, it absorbs the flavors, so it’s best to cook it for several minutes before eating. However, there are ways to make tempeh taste more similar to meat or fish. For example, you can add spice mixes to tempeh or cook it with soy sauce to create a delicious vegan dish.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented block of soybeans that originated in Indonesia (the white stuff you see is actually the healthy mold responsible for the fermentation!)
Though not as well-known as tofu, tempeh is a staple of many vegetarian and vegan diets (particularly popular in Southeast Asia). Tempeh, like tofu, is a soy-based product. Cooked soybeans are fermented, then the mixture is formed into a firm, dense cake. Beans, grains, and flavorings are usually included in most versions. (There are soy-free tempeh options made with grains or other beans.)
Unlike soy-based products, tempeh is a versatile and nutritious food. It’s an excellent source of protein and fiber and can be cooked like meat. The flavor of tempeh is quite diverse and can be adapted to any dish. While you may be skeptical about it, you’ll likely love it! You’ll be glad you did! It’s also a great way to eat healthily and feel good!
What does Tempeh Taste Like?
Tempeh, like most fermented foods, has its own distinct flavor. As the tempeh matures, the intensity increases and blocks with more gray mold spots have a more robust flavor than uniformly white ones. Pink, yellow, or blue mold should be avoided.
Tempeh has a nutty, earthy flavor that varies in intensity depending on maturity, and it also has an umami flavor that reminds me of mushrooms. Tempeh is a flavor that divides people, but it’s worth trying a few different dishes before dismissing it entirely.
Tempeh has a firm, chewy texture that makes it an excellent meat substitute. When the tempeh is deep-fried, the exterior develops a crispy shell contrasting nicely with the soft interior.
Tofu vs. Tempeh
When I first started eating less meat and looking into vegetarian protein options, I mistook tempeh and tofu for one another. While they both use soy as a protein source, they are very different.
Tempeh is made from whole fermented soybeans pressed tightly into a compacted bar, whereas tofu is made from coagulated soy milk. Soybeans, water, and brown rice are the three main ingredients in most store-bought tempeh.
There are soy-free versions of tempeh made from other ingredients like black beans. These are most commonly found in health food stores and are usually made locally.
Tempeh is less processed and fermented, with a richer flavor and texture. Tofu is more refined, with a milder flavor and almost no texture! Tofu can be blended into a creamy sauce or soup or fried for added texture, but it is much smoother than tempeh.
Tempeh is also easier to work with because it requires less preparation. Tofu requires additional time to press, whereas tempeh can be chopped and cooked immediately after opening the package!
Is Raw Tempeh Safe to Eat?
Raw tempeh is entirely safe to consume.
It doesn’t need to be cooked, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep it separate from a cooked dish. If you’re in a hurry or want to use it in a raw recipe, it’s 100% edible right out of the package. When you cook tempeh, the texture changes. If you put it under the broiler in the oven, it will go from soft and moist to dry and crisp, great for “bacon” bits. It will become super juicy and tender if you simmer it in a sauce or vegetable broth.
Tempeh has Incredible Health Benefits
Tempeh can provide a lot of protein and other nutrients. It’s no surprise that it’s a staple of Indonesian cuisine, and let’s look at its health benefits.
Antioxidants are Present
Tempeh contains isoflavones, which have antioxidant properties. They can reduce oxidative stress, lowering the accumulation of harmful free radicals linked to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, among other diseases.
Maintain the Health of your Digestive System
Tempeh is high in prebiotics, a type of fiber that encourages the growth of good bacteria in the digestive system. As a result, it also benefits overall health, reduces inflammation, and improves memory.
Bone Health Promotion
Tempeh’s high calcium content helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, both of which are beneficial to your overall health.
Tempeh contains isoflavones, which lower blood cholesterol and protect the liver by reversing liver cell damage and lowering triglycerides.
Weight Loss Support
Tempeh is a fantastic source of fiber and protein, making it an ideal weight-loss food. These nutrients help to increase the feeling of fullness and reduce hunger, thereby improving weight-loss effectiveness.
How to Make Tempeh Taste Good?
- To remove the bitterness from tempeh, you can steam it. Simply cut it into pieces and place it in a steamer basket. Cover it and let it steam for 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can use a saucepan and fill it with 1-2 inches of water. Stir occasionally. Once it’s cooked, it will be ready to eat.
- Usually, pre-cooked tempeh is not eaten raw. It can be added to stir-fry dishes, or you can cook it with other ingredients. You can even find it in fermented form. But it’s best to make your own marinade, as it will help the tempeh soften and taste better. If you’re looking for a more unique taste, experiment with your favorite flavorings.
- Tempeh is delicious, and its unique flavor comes from its fermentation and cooking processes. The uncooked version must be prepared for 20 minutes before eating.
- If you’re unsure of the product’s texture, try slicing it and letting it cool down. Then, use it in salads or other recipes.
Is Tempeh Good for you?
It has a high protein content, which means it aids the body’s ability to build and repair muscles. Tempeh is an excellent meat substitute because it is trans-fat-free. It is a dairy-free calcium supplement also high in micronutrients that promote good health.
Tempeh contains probiotics due to the fermentation process, which can aid in gut hygiene and digestion. According to research, eating tempeh can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood glucose levels. Mineral-rich soy products may also benefit brain health, especially when consumed as a whole-food-based diet.
Other Tempeh Varieties
The most traditional form of tempeh is made from soybeans, but the same fermentation process can be used to make a tempeh-like block from various legumes and grains. Chickpeas, black beans, jack beans, and mung beans are just a few of the many traditional tempeh alternatives.
Aside from the various legumes, Connoisseurs Veg points out that some tempeh may contain other seeds and grains, such as flax, sesame, hemp, rice, and quinoa, to boost nutritional value and flavor. While tempeh is generally gluten-free, check the ingredients before purchasing or eating them if you have allergies.
Where can you Find Tempeh?
Tempeh can be found at any large health food store or online. It’s usually in the produce section. Be sure to look for it with care: it can be unappetizing if not prepared properly. But, roasted and coated in tasty ingredients, it can be very appetizing! It’s worth noting that tempeh is a fermented soybean that’s less processed than tofu, which makes it a better choice when cooking for vegetarians and vegans. It can be found at most natural and Asian foods stores and is best purchased fresh.
Tempeh Baking Instructions
You don’t have to fry your tempeh in a pan if you want to eat it more healthily. Instead, you can learn how to make tempeh in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper to prepare the tempeh.
Simply place your tempeh pieces on a baking tray, season them as desired, and bake for 25 minutes. They are ready to eat as soon as they are removed from the oven.
Make sure there’s enough room between each piece to cook evenly and that they don’t overlap.
Are you Ready to Make Some Delectable Tempeh Recipes in the Kitchen?
The flavor of tempeh depends on the ingredients used to make it. Many brands are flavored with soy or vegetables. While tempeh is an excellent source of protein and essential vitamins, it isn’t gluten-free. Its flavor is similar to that of meat and dairy products. There are several commercial brands of tempeh available for consumers. You can also find it flavored with grains and other ingredients.
Tawainese Braised “Pork” (Lu Rou Fan): For a savory twist on a classic Taiwanese dish, TikTok chef Chez Jorge uses king oyster mushrooms and crumbled tempeh instead of minced pork.
Quinoa Tempeh Bowl with Roasted Cauliflower: With soy and sesame-marinated crispy crumbles and perfectly roasted cauliflower, tempeh takes your lunch to the next level.
Al Pastor Tempeh with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice: This chipotle chili and adobo-spiced version of your favorite burrito bowl replace takeout with tempeh. Wrapped in tortillas and topped with fresh pineapple, serve over a bed of cilantro lime cauliflower rice.
Marinated Peanut Baked Tempeh: Perfect for topping noodles, salads, and bowls, this saucy baked tempeh is marinated in a spicy-sweet caramelized peanut sauce.
How Should Tempeh be Seasoned?
- What can you do with your temper to keep it from becoming too dull to eat? It will require a little seasoning. A little salt and black pepper go a long way, but a sauce won’t hurt.
- Something as simple as ketchup or barbecue sauce can make a big difference, especially if you’re going for a meat flavor with the tempeh.
- Consider using teriyaki sauce or soy sauce to flavor this food if you’re making a stir fry or other Asian-style dish.
- Many of the same seasonings that you would use to season steak or chicken will also work well with tempeh. Tempeh is frequently seasoned with garlic, onion, ginger, parsley, or oregano to add flavor to the bland food.
- It can be used in your dishes like any meat or mushroom would, giving them a similar texture. It’s up to you to provide the flavor, so look for recipes that pack a punch and do the heavy lifting that tempeh can’t.
Like tofu, tempeh is a plant-based protein that’s fermented. It is made by combining fermented soybeans with grains, which adds texture and flavor to the food. The final product is similar to yogurt and cheese, but is more processed and has a stronger flavor. If you’re interested in making your own tempeh, you can dry-rub it in a variety of spices and marinades.
Tempeh is a delicious soy-based alternative to meat. It is a delicious, healthy, and nutritious meat alternative. In addition to being high in protein, it also has high fiber content. A single serving of tempeh can provide over a quarter of the daily fiber that you need. And as a vegetarian, you’ll appreciate its many benefits and avoid animal-based foods. And don’t forget that it’s an excellent source of magnesium, B vitamins, phosphorus, and many other vitamins and minerals.