Tempeh is a very handy ingredient for the vegetarian cook. I was first introduced to it when I was living in a housing co-op where we shared`vegetarian dinners. I learned it made a handy stir fry. A little later, I discovered it was a good thing to put into a sandwich.
Tempeh can also be used in place of meat in a number of recipes. I wouldn't say it is tastes like meat, but it's more savory than its cousin, tofu, and it has more texture. It doesn't necessarily need a marinade, but there are certainly options if you're a fan of soaking and letting the flavors mingle.
You don't need to follow a recipe when you cook with tempeh. The only thing thing you need to know is that it is probably safer if you do cook it a little. It's a traditional Indonesian food, but goes well in other Asian cuisine. These cuisines are probably the easiest to work with if you're not used to using it. If you're bold, you can add tempeh to recipes from around the world. If you're an aficionado of exotic recipes, or you're just not quite sure what to do with tempeh, I've included some recipes.
Here is a simple recipe for a tempeh pocket sandwich. Most of the ingredients are from Trader Joe's. An exception would be the sea vegetables which came from the refrigerator section of the food co-op. They are very salty and keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
You don't need to follow the recipe exactly. The important thing to keep in mind is that it can get too salty if you're not careful. You'll want to rinse the seaweed very well. The easiest thing to go with, seasoning-wise, is Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. It has whole peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds and can be ground directly onto your food. it does contain some salt, though. If you use it, you may want to omit the Bragg's. If you go with coriander and black pepper separately, the Bragg's is a nice touch.
- 8 oz. tempeh
- 1 cup frozen mixed bell peppers
- 2 -3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons refrigerated sea vegetables (well rinsed)
- 2 large whole wheat pita pockets
- sesame oil
- Freshly ground pepper and coriander
- or Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning
- Bragg's Liquid Aminos (optional)
- A few leaves of shredded dark greens (optional)
- Mince the garlic. Slice tempeh thin and, optionally, dash with a bit of diluted Braggs. Add garlic and seasoning.
- Generously grease a skillet with sesame oil.
- Sautee peppers on medium. When they're mostly defrosted, toss in the tempeh and seaweed.
- Continue cooking until the ingredients start to brown. Optionally, add a few leafy greens before removing from heat.
- Spoon everything into pita bread. It should make four generous half sandwiches.
More Tempeh Sandwich Recipes
- Tempeh Sandwich with Provolone Cheese
If you're vegan, you can substitute soy cheese -- this is some gooey stuff here!
- Reuben Tempeh Sandwich
This tempeh reuben uses some strongly flavored ingredients: mustard, sauerkrout, ginger...
- Tempeh Sandwich Spread
In this recipe, the tempeh is crumbled and turned into a spread.
- Grilled Tempeh Sandwich
The chef recommends panini bread for this one.
Video: Tempeh Stir Fry - A Nutritious Option
Here is an excellent introduction to tempeh stir fry. This cook uses shitake mushrooms and asparagus, so it's not the cheapest stir fry on the block. He is a fan of coconut oil, which may be more of a traditional Indonesian accompaniment. I am used to using sesame oil, which gives a strong flavor. He uses a combination of water and Tamari sauce -- I generally use Bragg's.
As the cook notes, a bit of flaxseed flour can add some nutrition. Another minor difference -- I like to throw in some whole flax seeds. Once you've got the basic idea, you can vary things quite a bit.
More Tempeh Stir Fry Recipes
- Broccoli and Bell Pepper Stir Fry
Not quite your typical stir fry, it does include a lot of pictures and step by step to get you going.
- Spicy Tempeh Stir Fry
Here is a spicy version with a peanut sauce made from peanut butter.
- Triple Color Pepper Stir Fry
Here is another recipe that uses three colors of pepper.