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Tempeh 101

Let’s talk about what you need to know when cooking with tempeh (including what it is, the difference between tofu and tempeh, and how to cook it)!

Picture of tempeh block on white background - Let's talk about what you need to know when cooking with tempeh (including what it is, the difference between tofu and tempeh, and how to cook it)!

What is tempeh?

Tempeh originated in Indonesia, and is essentially a block of soy beans that have been pressed together and fermented (that white stuff you see is actually the healthy mold responsible for the fermentation!)

Despite both being made from soybeans, tempeh is not the same as tofu. Tofu is made from ground up soybean curds which are then pressed into a block. Most importantly, tofu isn’t fermented, giving it a more mild taste than tempeh. Which brings us to an important question…

What does tempeh taste like?

The fermentation gives tempeh an earthy, savory, mushroom-like flavor that’s much stronger than the flavor of tofu. Where tofu is often soft and bland, tempeh is chewy and nutty.

Where to buy tempeh

You can find tempeh in the refrigerator section of most big grocery stores, or in health food and Asian supermarkets. It’s usually located in the same area that you would find tofu and meat replacements.

Picture of tempeh block on white background - Let's talk about what you need to know when cooking with tempeh (including what it is, the difference between tofu and tempeh, and how to cook it)!

How to store tempeh

Store tempeh in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, keeping in mind that tempeh is alive and will continue to slowly ferment as it sits (making the flavor richer). If you have leftover tempeh, just wrap it in wax or parchment paper and return to the fridge (the paper allows it to breathe). You can freeze it if needed for 6 to 8 months.

How to cook with tempeh

  • Crumbled or Grated: Tempeh takes on the flavors you add to it, and it’s chewy texture makes it an amazing ground meat substitute in chilis and taco meats (like in these Vegan Burrito Bowls)
  • Steamed: For the folks who find the flavor of tempeh too intense, try steaming it for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking with it.
  • Marinated: The flavor of tempeh can be intense on its own, but a marinade before cooking takes your tempeh to a whole new level. Try this Marinated Peanut Tempeh from Minimalist Baker!
Picture of tempeh block on white background - Let's talk about what you need to know when cooking with tempeh (including what it is, the difference between tofu and tempeh, and how to cook it)!
sarah

Hi, I’m Sarah! We’re working our way through the easy vegetarian kitchen, one ingredient at a time. Learn more and follow along!

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