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Dec 11, 2009 08:41 PM

Cooking tempeh

I bought a pack of tempeh with the intention of making one of the recipes from the Flexitarian Table, but the reviews from COTM are a bit mixed. Does anyone have any suggestions for a tempeh recipe that's foolproof and yummy? I've never cooked it before but am open to anything - just don't want to spend a ton of time one something that my family will refuse to eat.

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  1. Pandora, what type of tempeh is it? That's an incredibly variable foodstuff. Some has a very strong, assertive flavor and texture, and some is a lot more mild.

    Sounds kind of stupid, but in my vegetarian (and even vegan) days, I'd sometimes "corn" it by making a dry rub out of the spices you'd use for corned beef, then griddle it and make faux Reuben with good bread and kraut. I think it's best in sandwiches, where you have other textural elements.

    Not to sound negative, but it's the vegetarian "protein" that I think is most likely to raise objections from people unfamiliar with it. I know a lot of hardcore vegetarians and vegans who never develop a taste for it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dmd_kc

      I’m one of those vegetarians who doesn’t really like tempeh unless it’s disguised. It’s sort of the lutefisk of vegetarian foodstuffs.

      For me the best disguise for tempeh is a highly flavored barbeque sauce.

      You can also cut it up into small pieces and stir-fry. Again I like a strongly flavored sauce.

      For my doubtless unsophisticated palate tempeh tastes of fermentation and I’ve discovered, be it wine, beer or tempeh I prefer those with a less fermented taste. As a matter of fact I don’t even like the taste of beer anymore.

      I think the 'corning' idea is a good one.

    2. Pandora, I'm one of those people who tried a tempeh sauerkraut dish from Flex Table and found it nearly inedible, due more to texture than to flavor. One of my favorite dishes on the menu of a local Twin Cities restaurant (French Meadow) is a tempeh reuben. So, I know I like tempeh under the right conditions and I know it can be paired successfully with sauerkraut.

      But, in hindsight, I think part of the problem is that I reduced the amount of fat that the recipe called for by quite a bit (I was obsessively in weight-loss mode at the time). I think the fat was important to the success of the dish. If I were to try it again, I'd probably use the full amount of fat Berley recommends.

      If you do end up trying those Berley tempeh recipes, I would love to hear how it goes. Good luck!


      1. Tempeh can definitely be an acquired taste. I have been vegetarian a long time (& briefly vegan) and only just in the last year started working with tempeh & liking it. I prefer the ones made from soy, just because they provide better protein bang for the buck than the others, although I believe ones like the 3-Grain are less 'fermented' tasting.

        A couple recipes that have worked for me & are kind of fun:
        Cajun Tempeh 'Bacon' - if you do a google search you'll find many versions (one I use is from, but I omit the liquid smoke & use smoked paprika and some chipotle to get the same 'smokiness'
        )Maple Grilled Tempeh from 101cookbooks ( - amazing marinade, I've also just pan sauteed it or broiled it rather than grilling
        Thai Curries - any recipe will work here, subbing the tempeh for the tofu, etc. Lots of veggies, some coconut milk and red curry paste plus some peanuts. Yum!

        Hope this helps get you started...

        1 Reply
        1. re: jdubboston

          Second the Maple Tempeh!

          A lot of restaurants make Tempeh Ruebens... not too sure why it's such a popular sandwich at vegetarian restaurants, but the flavors work!

        2. What flavors do you like? I often marinate diced tempeh in soy sauce, chili flakes and green onions. is a great resource for ideas though.

          1. I like to slice the tempeh thin and bake it so that the outside is crispy and the inside is still soft. Then I make a peanut sauce and serve it over rice or add the crispy tempeh to peanut noodles. My easy peanut sauce is peanut butter (natural), sweet soy sauce, crushed garlic, a dash of sambal and a little coconut milk to thin it.