Pronounced “tem-pay,” this traditional Indonesian food is produced from whole soybeans naturally fermented and bound together. The fermentation process breaks down the soybeans into an easily digestible food with a myriad of culinary possibilities.

This age-old soy food is thought to have originated in Java, Indonesia, and has travelled the world where Indonesians have settled, including the Netherlands. However, tempeh only came to the attention of North Americans in the 1970s. Now we can easily find a variety of tempeh products in whole food stores: tempeh made only with soybeans; tempeh made with the addition of wild rice, barley, rice, millet, buckwheat, or herbs; seven-grain tempeh; smoked tempeh; tempeh “bacon”; and marinated tempeh in various flavours.

Raw tempeh is generally found in the freezer section and will keep in your home freezer for several months. Smoked and marinated varieties are found in the refrigerator section. With a few of these products on hand, and a little information, you can add variety to your menus without spending the proverbial hours over a hot stove.

Traditionally, tempeh was often marinated or dipped in a salty mixture and deep-fried. Deep-fried tempeh is very delicious (truth be told, almost anything is yummy when it’s deep-fried!), but tasty tempeh can also be prepared in ways that go easy on the sodium and fat content.

Tempeh’s versatility lends itself to cuisines from both hemispheres, which can be experienced with the following recipes.

Where will tempeh take you?

Recipes

About the Author

Bryanna Clark Grogan is the author of World Vegan Feast (Vegan Heritage Press, 2011) and eight more vegan cookbooks. veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com