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As we continue to evolve and expand our Vegan menu, Sparkling Hill’s Executive Chef and culinary team are exploring new ways to create healthy, high protein options as meat replacements. Chef Romaine Newell will be featuring a Tempeh dish on CTV this month, be sure to watch for CTV’s Winter Wellness segment to hear more tips and tricks about this highly beneficial dish.

Tempeh is a must have in all Vegetarian and Vegan diets.

Tempeh is a vegetarian soy food that has been eaten in Asia, particularly Indonesia, for hundreds of years and is popular in vegetarian and vegan cooking as a stand-in replacement for meat.

Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger. Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on its own, unlike tofu. Tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as a lot of amazing health benefits.
If you aren’t fond of tofu, tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones, but, tempeh actually tastes nothing like tofu and the two have very little in common. Tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor with a very firm texture which doesn’t easily crumble, like tofu does. Many vegetarian and vegan recipes use tempeh as a meat substitute when making make stir-fries, sandwiches or chili.

Because it is a low-fat and high-protein food, many vegetarians choose to include tempeh in their diet on a regular basis. Try adding some to a stir fry instead of tofu, or crumble or finely chop it up and add it into soups or meatless chili. Because of its firm texture, you need to slice tempeh into small dices or cubes, not more than 3/4 inch thick, and, many tempeh recipes will call for the tempeh to be simmered for about 10 minutes before cooking it or adding it into a dish; this is just to soften it up a bit since tempeh has a very firm texture.

This is also a very versatile addition to your diets because you are able to make adjustments to grains and legumes used in the fermentation process of making tempeh.

Here are five ways to prepare tempeh and enhance its potential for excellent texture and flavor:

1. Steamed. If you find tempeh to be too bitter straight out of the package, steaming it can help. Place sliced tempeh in a saucepan and cover with water or vegetable broth. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the tempeh and proceed with marinating, grilling, baking, or otherwise seasoning and cooking it.

2. Marinated. Tempeh can be rather bland on its own, but it takes well to marinade. Good tempeh marinade ingredients include soy sauce, vinegar, citrus juice, coconut milk, peanut butter, ginger, spices, or sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar or honey. Even a quick coat of soy sauce and a few other seasonings significantly heightens the flavor.

Here’s what we do on busy weeknights: Cut an 8 ounce block of tempeh into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Marinate for 10-20 minutes in a mixture of Bragg’s liquid aminos (1/4 cup), rice wine vinegar (1 tablespoon), sesame oil (1/2 teaspoon), and minced garlic (1-2 cloves). Pan-fry over medium heat until golden brown and crispy.
Marinated tempeh may also be grilled or baked.

3. Thinly sliced. Grilling or pan-frying tempeh until the edges turn crispy enhances its natural nutty flavor. Of course, different recipes call for various slice sizes and techniques, but in general we like to slice tempeh about 1/4 inch thick. At this thickness, it can acquire just the right amount of crispiness on the edges while retaining a nice, chewy interior.

4. Blackened. Tempeh coated and seared with with blackening spice makes a tasty addition to salads and vegetable bowls. Use a prepared Cajun-style seasoning or make your own with equal parts paprika, cayenne, black pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and salt. Brush tempeh patties with oil, coat them with the spice mixture, and sear in a hot frying pan. Let the spices smoke for 5-10 seconds to blacken.

5. Crumbled into sauces and stews. Like tofu, tempeh takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked in, making it a versatile way to add heartiness and protein to a meal. Add crumbled, grated, or cubed tempeh to spaghetti sauce, stew, chili, or curry.