Saturday, March 2, 2013

Food Adventure #2: Tempeh

After a suggestion from Big Daddy Diesel, I decided on Tempeh for my second non-animal based protein food to try this month as part of my Monthly Challenge.  

I admit that when BDD suggested it, I had no idea what Tempeh was.  So as every good consumer does, I Googled it.  Here's what Wiki has to say...

"Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia.  It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty."

Yeah, that's about right.  It's fermented soy beans packed together in a patty.   And to make it seem even cooler, they double wrap it.  'Cause only the best products take you twice as long to enjoy!

When you finally get it open and cut into it, you find that those soy beans really are stuck together in a solid patty form; they do NOT fall apart as I partially expected. 

From what I've read, some people prefer Tempeh over Tofu because while they are both Soy products, Tempeh is more of the whole soy bean and therefore more of a whole food.  In my mind, it's still fermented, so both are the same to me.  However, they do cook differently and sure do taste different.

Not knowing how to attack Tempeh, I looked up some recipes.  Everyone seemed to agree that the best way to cook it was to fry it.  So I pulled out the oil, cut up quarter-inch chunks of Tempeh and tried it fried.  It took roughly 2-3 minutes on each side; roughly 6 minutes total. 

My best description of how it tastes is this...

It tastes like a nutty tater tot.

No joke!  It has the consistency of a tater tot, which should not be surprising.  They're both fried and chunks of their previous whole food.  And the nutty nature I assume comes from the protein content.  Who knows though; I could be wrong.  I then tried to alter the flavor with some spices; garlic powder and cajun seasoning.

Both tasted good, but did not cover up the nutty flavor.  It seems the nutty-ness (is that with an "i"??) is a constant Tempeh flavor you need to work with.  But is the tater tot fried flavor a constant?

I tried baking the same size Tempeh pieces next to figure out that answer. 

After about 10 minutes, the Tempeh looked no different - a pale, off-white color.  It sure was lighter though; it had dried quite a bit.  The taste had lost the tater tot flavor, but kept the nuttiness (yup, looks better with an "i").  However, after snacking on a few which I found delicious, the flavor started to gross me out.  I'm not sure if that was a factor of them cooling down or simply my taste buds catching up to the true flavor, but I had to force myself to finish this small batch. 

Definitely better fried over baked in this test.

I'm not really a fan of frying foods, so I can't say I've found a way to cook Tempeh that would make it a staple in my diet to some degree.  However, I'll consider this a success in having tried it.  


1.  Have you tried Tempeh?  If so, how do YOU cook it? 
I'm all ears for alternative suggestions.

2.  Do you have any suggestions on other non-animal based protein products?
I have also tried falafel and black beans (posts coming soon). 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

1 comment:

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, you REALLY have to drown it in seasoning!! THe texture is weird. I have only used it to make tacos