Silly Food Fact
And what is tempeh, you ask. If you were living in Indonesia right now, you’d be buying a block of tempeh wrapped in a banana leaf from a street vendor. Your family would also have a secret tempeh recipe—handed down from one generation to the next. Tempeh originated in Indonesia, and it is made with whole soybeans that are cooked, slightly fermented, and then shaped into a compact cake. Tempeh has an earthy, nutty flavor and a firm texture.
Check out this “what is tempeh video” and see it for yourself:
Why Our Bodies Love It
The interest in tempeh is exploding. Vegetarians and vegans love its nutrition and versatility, and now tempeh is attracting meat-eaters who want a healthy source of protein. Unlike animal protein, the soy in tempeh has been shown to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. The natural fermentation process makes tempeh easy to digest and helps our bodies better absorb minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Care and Picking
If you haven’t eaten tempeh, look for it in the refrigerated section of Asian or health-food stores; it will come pasteurized, vacuumed-packed, and ready to eat. Increasingly, it is stocked in local grocery stores. Some commercial brands add other grains, like oats or barley, as well as spices, to tempeh.
Tips and Warnings
Have fun experimenting with tempeh! Cube and toss into stir-fry; crumble and add to pasta sauce; slice and layer in sandwiches; marinate and grill on the barbecue. Tempeh grates nicely and can be used in place of ground beef—or sneak in those beneficial soy nutrients by substituting it for half the ground beef in recipes. If you like a bit of a challenge, try making your own tempeh. You only need soy beans, vinegar, and tempeh starter. The starter prompts the fermentation process and can always be ordered online if not available in your local store.