Tofu has gotten quite a lot of attention lately when it comes to tasty vegetarian or vegan cuisine. It's the first thing you think of when you consider the best kinds of plant-based protein. As much as I love tofu, though, I'm starting to feel sorry for tempeh, as it deserves just as much attention for being a reliable and delicious source of protein.
In case you're wondering, here's the difference between tofu and tempeh: tofu is made from curdled soy milk, and tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. Half a cup of tofu has about 10 grams of protein, while tempeh has more than 15. Tempeh also comes out on top when it comes to fiber; it has 3.5 grams, while tofu only has .5.
What about the taste, you ask? Well, tempeh has a firmer, nuttier texture, while tofu is pretty soft, spongy, and kind of flavorless until you spice it up with some marinade or sauce.
As a happy vegan who loves to cook, a lot of people ask me how to cook tempeh. It seems so much more mysterious than its soy cousin, and there aren't nearly as many tempeh recipes out there as there are tofu ones. Before I give suggestions on how to cook it, though, I always pass down this one slice of wisdom, which will elevate anyone's tempeh, no matter how you end up making it.
What many people don't expect is that tempeh naturally has a slightly bitter flavor, and if you're not expecting it — or if you just don't like that kind of taste — you may end up hating it. That's why I always steam my tempeh right before I cook it. This removes the bitterness and makes it a little softer. Additionally, steaming your tempeh before you cook it opens up its pores, so to speak, so it better absorbs whatever sauce or flavors you decide to put on it.
This is how it's done:
- Put a steamer basket on top of a pot of boiling water.
- Place sliced tempeh in the basket once the water is rapidly boiling.
- Cover and let it steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
And that's it! You're ready to make your tempeh in whatever way you like best. If you need some inspiration, here are a few recipes to get you started.