Whether you are a committed vegetarian or simply looking for ways to vary your diet by introducing more plant proteins, tempeh (“tehm-pay”) is one of my favourite choices.
Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh has a chewy, fulsome texture and nutty taste that makes it more complex and interesting, in my view, than tofu. The porous nature of tempeh also makes it an ideal absorber of marinade juices and flavours.
A quality vegetable protein, containing all essential amino acids, tempeh is high in soluble fibre and contains good amounts of calcium, essential fatty-acids and B vitamins.
It is possibly one of the least known soy foods in North America, which is unfortunate given its superior nutrient profile and whole food quality in comparison to heavily processed soy products that new vegetarians tend to gravitate towards – soy dogs, soy burgers, soy bacon….
Like tofu, tempeh is extremely easy to work with and tends to take on the flavours of the ingredients it is cooked in. My favourite preparation consists of simply slicing it and pan frying it with olive oil.
For this recipe, I have created a simple sesame variation that is very flavourful and delicious. It will take you about 15 minutes, from start to finish, to have this meal on the table.
Pan Seared Sesame Tempeh
1 block of tempeh, in the range of 250 grams, sliced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
A few sesame seeds for topping
Tempeh comes in different forms. The most common variation on pure soy tempeh (soybeans only) is a combination of wheat and soy. Be sure to read package information if you are wheat/gluten intolerant. Henry’s Tempeh is an organic ‘soybeans only’ brand that I buy most often.
The porous nature of tempeh allows it to absorb liquids very quickly and easily. You will only need 3 minutes of marinating time on each side. If you leave it longer, it will absorb all of the liquid and become overly wet.
This meal is best eaten right from the skillet.
Place sesame oil, soy sauce and water in a small shallow baking dish, mixing to combine.
Lay sliced tempeh over marinade in dish. Allow tempeh to sit in marinade for approximately 3 minutes before turning over to marinade the other side for another couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, warm a skillet on the stove greased with olive oil. Pan sear both sides of tempeh and enjoy right from the skillet over your favourite fixings (I prepared mine with coleslaw for lunch but it is also lovely with wild rice, millet, quinoa or lentils).
Pure Soy Tempeh
Cut in half
in the marinade
The first signs of Spring begin to appear (ever the optimist)
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