What is tempeh? To start off, you pronounce it like "temp-a," and it is made from whole fermented soybeans that are molded into a shallow cake and allowed to harden. Tempeh has more protein, fiber, and vitamins than tofu because it is made from the whole bean.
It has been eaten for ages in Asian cultures, and originated in Indonesia. Sometimes it's referred to as the Javanese meat because it is so popular in Java.
The fermentation process starts like that for Natto, the soybeans are cleaned and boiled, allowed to soak, and then boiled again.
At that point, a fermentation agent (something like vinegar) is sprayed on the beans and they are set in a hot, humid place to ferment. This last stage usually takes about a day, and when it's over, the soybeans have molded and are caked together in a tight brick.
It comes shaped in a hard brick that you can chop, slice, or grate into a variety of different dishes. It tastes a bit like mushrooms and nuts, and can be flavored with many different spices for new tastes.
I usually find tempeh that has been combined with other legumes, grains, and seeds. It is really easy to cook and I've found a variety of amazing tempeh recipes. I usually cover it with some soy sauce and then sautee it. Yummy!
Now that you know what is tempeh, is it good for you?
Tempeh is very healthy--it is a complete protein food because it contains every amino acid. It has no saturated fat or cholesterol like the other complete proteins out there-- meat and eggs!
When soybeans go from being beans to being tempeh, several great things happen. First, the beans become easier to digest, which means you can say goodbye to the side effects of beans (you know what I mean!) Also, your body is better able to process zinc, iron, and calcium. And, it's a great source of iron, potassium, and folic acid.
Tempeh is high in fiber, which aids in digestion and prevents diseases. It is also low in sodium, and the high fiber and protein levels regulate blood sugar levels.
It is full of isoflavones, and during its fermentation process, it creates natural antibiotics which help prevent intestinal disease and dysentery. It helps prevent osteoporosis by strengthening bones. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, and even menopause symptoms.
You can keep it in its package in the freezer for about 6 months, but once it is thawed, it should be eaten within about 10 days.
You can cook it just about any way you choose; baked, broiled, deep-fried, grilled, microwaved (with a bit of water), pan-fried, sauteed or toasted.
Great ideas for cooking:
Since it lasts so long in the refrigerator, it's a good idea for anyone on a plant-based diet to keep some of this product on hand at all times. You can freeze it or just keep it cool and pull it out whenever you need to.