Originally from Indonesia, Tempeh (tem-PAY) is a fermented soybean patty often used as a meat substitute (source). Though the taste and texture is nothing like meat, it is often enjoyed because of these factors. Tempeh has an earthy, nutty, mushroom-like flavor and can be found fresh in health food stores and many supermarkets, as well as frozen at some Asian grocers. It is loaded with manganese, which is linked to the prevention and treatment of arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy, osteoporosis and PMS (source). 1 cup of tempeh also provides 30.8g protein, 184mg calcium and 4.5mg iron. Tempeh even contains omega fatty acids 3 and 6 (source).
With its unique, almost crunchy texture, tempeh should always be steamed before consuming. Steaming not only moistens the tempeh and renders it more easily digestible, it also enables the tempeh to more readily absorb flavoring. Simply steam the whole block of tempeh for 15-20 minutes, then dice or slice (whatever your recipe calls for). Flavor, then cook as desired. In my personal experience, I’ve found that tempeh is best flavored by marinating for 6-8 hours or overnight. When sliced into strips and marinated, tempeh is excellent on sandwiches, and when cubed and marinated, it would be wonderful in these veggie kabobs. In the vegan world, however, tempeh is most commonly used as a bacon substitute. If you ask me, however, tofaken is much more like the real thing than tempeh.
“So where can I buy tempeh” you ask? Here are a couple companies that sell tempeh commercially:
Turtle Island Foods, Inc.