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Ask the Chef: Trouble with Tempeh
“Dear Chef Linda, I know people rave about tempeh and I can’t understand why. I’ve tried making several recipes that I found online and it never really tastes very good. Help! What am I doing wrong?”
Dear Trouble, done right, tempeh can be a versatile staple to have on hand. Made from fermented soy beans and minimally processed, tempeh is a healthy, complete protein, but how you prepare it makes all the difference.
The first step, before using tempeh in any recipe is to soften and season. Out of the package, tempeh is dense and firm, with a slightly bitter taste. Simmering it in water and soy sauce or in vegetable broth helps the tempeh to become soft and infuses it with a little flavor.
Cut tempeh into desired shape; strips, cubes or cutlets. Add tempeh to a pot with a ratio of 1/4 cup soy sauce to one cup of water (or use all broth). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add other flavorings to the pot if you desire; bay leaf, garlic, herbs or spices. Drain and pat dry, then you’re ready to use tempeh in any recipe.
I hope this changes your feelings about tempeh! Try one (or more!) of these recipes: