Tempeh can be a little tricky. When it comes to vegetarian cooking, I wouldn’t consider tempeh to be one of the subjects covered in the 101 class. Tempeh looks a little weird, tastes kind of funny on its own, and can be somewhat hard to figure out without help. Like tofu, it picks up the flavors of the sauce you cook it in. Unlike tofu, it has a complex texture and distinct nutty flavor that some may describe as “an acquired taste.” Learning how to prepare it can be very rewarding. When tempeh is good it is very very good.
Tempeh is a soy product that is created by fermented whole soybeans. The soybeans are soaked, dehulled, partially cooked, and then spread out in a single layer. Vinegar and a fermentation starter are added to the beans and then they ferment for a day or two. The process results in a thin mat of soybeans connected by white mycelia. I know that sounds a little scary. However, the fermentation process transforms the soybeans into a more digestible form. This means that for people who have issues with soy, it is easier get the protein, fiber and carbohydrates that come from soybeans with fewer negative side effects. Furthermore, tempeh has certain nutrition benefits that whole soybeans and tofu do not provide.
The first few times I prepared tempeh at home, I was less than impressed with the results. After a few great experiences with tempeh in restaurants, I attempted tempeh at home again, and I learned some tasty ways to prepare it. These days, tempeh makes it onto our dinner menu a few times a month. Recently I made a fall meal that featured a delicious tempeh main dish that I couldn’t resist sharing with you. Alongside roasted brussels sprouts and a butternut squash-potato mash with sage butter, this chili maple glazed tempeh is a great meatless way to add color, flavor and protein to your plate. Sweet, spicy, crispy and tender, this dish is a fantastic introduction to cooking with tempeh. Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty easy to make too.
If you haven’t tried tempeh yet, give it a chance!
Chili Maple Glazed Tempeh
- 1 – 8 oz. package of tempeh
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- Sriracha or chili sauce to taste
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Cut the tempeh into eight triangles: first into four equal rectangles, then cut each rectangle crosswise into two triangles.
- Combine apple cider vinegar, chili sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil and stir to mix together to form a marinade.
- Arrange tempeh triangles in a single layer in a shallow dish. Cover with marinade and set aside. Marinate for one hour, turning pieces over a few times to marinate evenly.
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tempeh pieces to pan, reserving marinade for later, and cook for 5 minutes per side, until lightly browned and crispy.
- Add remaining marinade to pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickened, turning tempeh occasionally to cook evenly on both sides.