Are you team tofu or team tempeh? There’s no need to choose if you ask me. Both soy-based staples of many plant-based diets have a time and a place in my life and on my plate. While tofu, originating from China, is basically bean curd, tempeh is a slightly less processed product made from binding fermented soybeans into a cake. It has a rougher, heartier texture than tofu, an impressive nutritional profile and provides probiotics, which feed the good bacteria in our gut.
My first experience with tempeh wasn’t a hit – I tried to make a bolognese with it after seeing such a dish on instagram. The unique taste of tempeh came through and, to me at least, didn’t marry harmoniously with the Italian flavours. My love affair with tempeh only really began on a trip to Indonesia, back in 2018. A creation said to have originated in Java, tempeh is wonderfully (or woefully – if you ask my boyfriend) ubiquitous in Indonesia. I enjoyed tempeh there on a daily basis and could not get my fill. Since then, tempeh has become much easier to come by in countries such as Switzerland. I’m now able to find it at regular grocery stores and no longer have to make a special trip to the health food shop.
While I also like to include tempeh in flavorful stir-fries with peanut sauce, my go-to method of cooking tempeh is using this basic marinade. I fry it up in a pan and then serve as part of a “buddha bowl”, i.e. with a grain, some greens, maybe a dollop of hummus, etc. It only takes a few minutes to cook and does not require lengthy soaking, as tofu can.
Easy Miso Chili Tempeh
Makes: ca. 4-5 servings
- 400g tempeh (I often use Bioline tempeh, found in Coop in Switzerland; I also love Futur Tempeh, which I buy in Alnatura)
- 1 tbsp dark miso paste
- ca. 1/2 tbsp chili sauce, or more, if desired (I tend to use Sriracha or sambal oelek)
- 1/2 tsp liquid sweetener (e.g. agave, date or maple syrup)
- 1/3 cup (85 ml) plant milk (I use rice or oat milk)
- some oil for the pan (I use olive or coconut oil)
- optional: dash of ginger juice, garlic powder, some liquid smoke
- Slice the tempeh into equal strips or coins, depending on the shape of your tempeh. Heat some oil in a non-stick pan and add your tempeh. Cook on each side for a few minutes until golden brown.
- While the tempeh is cooking (or before, if you prefer), whisk together the miso paste, chili sauce, sweetener and plant milk as well as any optional additions. There should be no miso lumps.
- Pour your marinade over the golden tempeh, while it’s still on medium-high heat. The marinade should bubble and it will immediately start to get soaked up by the tempeh. Using cooking tongs make sure you get both sides of each slice of tempeh coated in the marinade. Keep cooking on medium heat until the marinade has been soaked up and the tempeh is well cooked. Add an extra dash of plant milk, if needed.
- Serve as desired, e.g. over a salad, with some veggie quinoa, on top of noodle dish or just dip into into hummus for a strange, but super satisfying snack!
Feel free to tag @blueberrysmiles22 if you share your creations on Instagram, so I can share in the joy 🙂
Tempeh is a delicious and highly nutritious add-on to any salad or bowl!