What is tempeh? And how is it different from tofu? Answers about what tempeh is (and how to cook with it) here!
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…
While both tempeh and tofu are healthy options, tempeh has more protein, fiber, and iron. Tofu has more calcium and fewer calories.
Tempeh is made completely from plant-based sources, so it is suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets.
Yes, tempeh can be eaten raw. However, to remove its distinct bitter flavor, tempeh is most delicious when cooked.
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.
All of the fermentation that makes tempeh delicious is also what makes it so healthy! Tempeh is packed with probiotics, making it a great choice for your gut health.
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 refrigerated area that you would find tofu and meat replacements.
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. Here’s how to marinate tempeh (8 ways!)
- Cubed: Cubs or triangles are a classic way to cook tempeh! From there, just bake or saute.
A few of our favorite tempeh recipes include: