What is tempeh and how to cook it?

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What does tempeh taste like?

Tempeh has what some would say is an “acquired taste” and certainly few people would fully enjoy it! But the same could be said for tofu, and like tofu, tempeh brilliantly soaks up flavors and benefits from being marinated before cooking with delicious sauces and spices.

The flavor is best described as both bean and nutty with an earthiness similar to mushrooms, and some varieties have a slightly “cheesy” flavor due to fermentation.

Different flavor brands though, so it’s definitely worth trying a few varieties to find a favorite. Many brands also offer alternatives such as smoked or marinated products.

Is tempeh better than tofu?

In some ways, yes. In terms of flavor, it’s entirely up to personal taste, of course, but the firmness and chewiness of tempeh often appeals to vegans who miss having a “meaty” texture in their diet.

This texture means it’s less likely to crumble while cooking, so it’s ideal for vegan kebabs on the BBQ, stir-fries and for making vegan bacon and marinated ‘steaks’ for hearty sandwiches, for example. .

Nutritionally, tempeh has the edge over tofu. Tempeh is a whole food, which makes it higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Plus, as a prebiotic-rich fermented food, tempeh offers other health benefits – the fermentation process breaks down the phytic acids in soybeans, making them more digestible for us (good news for anyone who normally suffer from uncomfortable side effects after eating beans).

This means that nutrients, including the many important minerals found in soy such as calcium, iron and magnesium, also become more bioavailable and better absorbed by our bodies.

Fermented foods are also believed to boost gut diversity, which is believed to have broader benefits for gut health and therefore other health issues such as immunity, weight management, mental health and the prevention of chronic diseases.

As with tofu, if you regularly eat tempeh, it’s always best to buy organic to avoid eating GM beans and potentially harmful chemicals that are regularly sprayed on GM soybean crops, such as the herbicide glyphosate.

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Tanya S. Norvell