Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Meet Your Meat Substitutes: Tempeh Review

Carmelised Tempeh Mixed Green Salad
I first heard about tempeh from vegan soul brother number one Bryant Terry and his ground breaking book, Vegan Soul Kitchen. In the book he talks about frying it, roasting it, mixing it and stuffing it in to peppers, like he hasn't got a care in the world.  I'd never heard of it before but when I looked it up the I was a little bit put off by the notion of 'fermented soy beans' and didn't try it for more than a year. For Meet Your Meat Substitutes though, tempeh cannot be overlooked.

Review: One of the best
So far, this is one of my favourite meat substitutes. Tempeh not only has a distinctive hearty flavour,  but when you get it in brick form you can used it in cubes, strips or mince it up to make patties or 'no' meat balls.  Other descriptions of tempeh say that, like tofu, it takes on the flavour of what it's cooked in and yes that's mostly true, but what makes the difference for me is that tempeh has it's own subtle smoky basic flavour as well, making it a great addition to so many vegan and vegetarian recipes.

Tempeh Block and Slices

Tempeh is not necessarily meaty in flavour, you wouldn't really fool anyone, but in cooking it performs in some of the same ways.  Like for my Carmelised Tempeh Salad, each marinated piece crisped up and coloured like a meat product might. And it also provided an efficient and filling source of protein in my 'Chicken Style Tempeh Salad Sandwich'. And by that I mean that you could easily have a tempeh sandwich on it's own and not need much else in order to "feel full'.

With regards to texture, tempeh looks like rice crispy treats, is bouncy but firm to the touch and feels substantial to chew. I thought this added to the character of a meal in a way that many meat substitutes do not. Tofu I often find to be a bit of a non-event and even ever popular Quorn is trying it's best to imitate something else rather than making a place for itself.

Loved the taste of this. The tempeh that I tried had a lovely nutty flavour with a smokey accent. I tried it as a main event in a salad with a soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and as a mayo soaked sandwich filler and it worked well for both.

I'm not sure if there is much that you can't do with tempeh. has more than 100 different recipes including Vegan Paella, Tempeh Sloppy Joes, No Meat Tempeh Meatballs, and Tempeh Bacon. Some of the recipes have the added step of  having to boil the tempeh first. Don't worry this only takes a few miniutes and means you that the tempeh is ready to absorb whatever seasonings you give it. Works remarkably well.

Overall, tempeh is fabulous can't wait to gobble up some more. 

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