Even carnivores might like tempeh

Superfoods | October 5, 2012 | By

Soy continues to amaze me as the chameleon of the food world.  Soy can become anything; little green peas (edamame), salty black sauce, Squishy or crispy tofu, turkey, hotdogs, milk, and last but nowhere near least, “Wow Butter,” which my PB loving husband is overjoyed about, because my daughter is allergic to peanuts and so WB has enabled his return to a two-ingredient meal on those days when I’m not around and he can’t figure out how to make anything in the fridge.

And now I’ve learned that soy can also morph into tempeh, my most recent weird food experiment.

I’m always suspicious of whether or not very healthy foods can actually taste good.  Call me a pessimist, but life is generally about trade-offs rather than holy grails, with the exception of the family I somehow landed myself into.  I don’t generally believe in a “win/win.”  And when it comes to tempeh specifically, my taste expectations were even lower than for a regular super food, because vegetarians were raving about it online.  I mean, vegans have tongues too I’m sure, so I know they must like good recipes and tasty dishes as much as the next humanoid, but sometimes I feel like they play up flavour to prove that they haven’t sacrificed anything by making their lifestyle choice.  Is that unfair?  Do these opinions make me tarian-ist (discriminatory toward vegetarians)?  Maybe slightly, although for this same reason, I believe that a great vegetarian cook deserves even more respect than another because they’re able to make a more limited smorgasbord of ingredients taste great.  So I might be more cautious about trusting a vegan’s tastebuds, but the proof would always be in the dairy-free pudding.

I began to warm to tempeh right out of the gate, though.  Although it came in similar vacuum packaging to tofu, it wasn’t encased in its own gross liquidy plasma.  Nice.  It sliced easily

And stayed together as I boiled it, which is supposed to make it slurp up a marinade more completely.  I chose this simple marinade (on the advice of this recipe which also helped me with the tempeh), hoping to get a nice lime-salty flavour that would go well with a diverse veggie stir fry.  Here’s how it all went down:


  • 1 package tempeh
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 3Tbsp soy sauce
  • Pepper

Directions to marinade and roast tempeh:  Slice tempeh and boil the slices, 10 minutes.  Let them cool.  Combine marinade ingredients and pour into a plastic bag, adding the slices and letting the bag rest in the fridge for one hour.  Spread the tempeh across a baking sheet, roasting at 400 for 15 minutes, flipping them, and continuing for a further 15 minutes.

Stir fry (Serves 4, inspired by this recipe, although different)

  • Glug of olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 portabello mushrooms
  • 1 head broccoli florets
  • 3 bok choy
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2/3C coconut milk
  • 2Tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of one more lime
  • 2Tsp brown sugar
  • Shake of dried chili peppers
  • Brown rice, cooked per package instructions

Directions:  Mix coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and dried chilis in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat oil in stir fry pan over med heat, 1 minute.  Add garlic and sautee, 2 mins.  Add mushrooms and cook until some liquids are released.  Add remaining veg and cook until bright and slightly soft, about 2 minutes.  Add sauce and allow to boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let it go for another 6 minutes or so.  Serve over rice, with tempeh strips over top.


Better than tofu!  Who’d have thunk it?  Tempeh is much more dense and hearty than tofu (apparently this “wholeness” makes it high in fibre), and has a nutty, almost oaty flavour that was very easy to take – tempeh and tofu can’t really even be compared.

My husband didn’t complain, and trust me, I would have heard about it if I had fed him big strips of something unpalatable.  Another great benefit was that I was very full after eating it.  I wouldn’t say this recipe was “delicious!” but it could be a good staple to throw into the rotation, especially considering the fact that much of Canada’s beef is at risk for e-coli right now (shiver).  I’ve been admiring vegetarians while watching this in the news, actually – it’s horrible thinking about all the animals that have had to be killed for no reason, and I wish I wasn’t knee deep in the industry as a consumer.  But I guess that veggies always think animals are killed for no reason.  Look out, starting to sound like tempeh is making me consider a change!  Except for the fact that my next blog entry is going to be about haggis.  Rating: 1.5 Yums.  If “Dancing with the Stars,” can increase their scale to include .5s and think it’s a big deal, so can I.

Wine Pairing:  Tofu pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc, so I’ll apply that to tempeh too and suggest the Santa Carolina Blanc Reserva 2011 from Chile, which comes across as a great wine at a great price on winealign.com, retailing for only $11.95 in Ontario.



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