Cooking With Tempeh
New Leaf Market E-newsletter August 8, 2012
By Gretchen Hein
What has a firm texture, a slightly nutty, mushroom taste, comes packaged as a cake and originated in Indonesia over 200 years ago? Tempeh or soybeans with culture! Tempeh is created when partially cooked soybeans are inoculated with a Rhizopus mold and left to ferment in a warm, sterile environment. This process binds the beans together into a compact cake punctuated with small black spots (think of cheese and yogurt as cultured milk). Its versatility makes it a resourceful kitchen ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways.
One of my favorite Tempeh resources is Shurtleff and Aoyagi’s The Book of Tempeh: A Super Soyfood from Indonesia, which gives a complete history of the food, nutritional analysis, directions for making your own and an abundance of tasty recipes. Another important thing to know is that tempeh’s high B12 content makes it a superfood—especially great for vegetarians and vegans.
At New Leaf Market, you can find tempeh in the dairy cooler (close to the tofu) or in the freezer section; look for local Artie’s Tempeh. It can also be found prepared in the del. The Tempeh Reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches. Tempeh also shows up fairly frequently in a variety of dishes at the hot bar. For those who like the surety of recipes, try some of the following sites:
Tempeh salad has been a staple in my kitchen for years. I basically bring water to a boil, simmer the tempeh cake for 15 minutes and then crumble the tempeh with a fork. I add mustard, mayonnaise and chopped vegetables such as red pepper or celery, just as if I were making egg or tuna salad. I use the salad on sandwiches, alongside a garden salad or as a dip for crackers or vegetables. I love to add sautéed tempeh to a curry stir fry or broil it in the oven and make tempeh croutons that have a number of uses. Once you start experimenting, you’ll find endless ways to prepare this most delicious superfood.