Monday, March 31, 2014

mind your tempeh (stir fry with marinated tempeh recipe)

Sorry, I'm clearly struggling with clever puns on the word "tempeh" (i.e. the title of this post) - in fact, many of you may not even know what tempeh is, which would make any attempt at a pun ineffective anyway - but hey, at least I tried. ;-)  The important thing is that you're reading this now (or at least I hope you are), and you are about to find out what I'm talking about!

So, tempeh.  What is it?  Well, first and foremost, tempeh is a soy product, (made of fermented soy beans), which makes it a great alternative protein source for meatless meals.  However, it should not be confused with tofu -  although both are soy products, they are quite different - while tofu has very little flavour, is soft and mushy in texture, and is often packed in liquid, tempeh has a very firm texture, and comes packaged in compressed blocks which contain virtually no liquid.  Tempeh also has a mild flavour of its own, which is slightly nutty - and is often combined with other ingredients to enhance its natural flavour.  Personally, I like to use a brand by Henry's, which is made with organic soy beans (important - see below!), and is naturally dairy and gluten-free.  I usually purchase the tempeh made with crushed red peppers:

Depending on where you live, this brand may not be available - but tempeh can usually be found at health food stores, and is likely widely available at Whole Foods.  As the label indicates, it's a product made fairly locally to where I live in Ontario - if you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) I've purchased it before at Whole Foods (I don't think they need a plug!), the Organic GaragePlanet Organic, and Goodness Me.

If I am going to use a soy product, I actually prefer to use tempeh over tofu for several reasons:

  • It's an excellent source of protein, offering the same quality protein as meat and poultry
  • High in dietary fibre and calcium
  • Easily digestible 
  • High in fatty acids and Vitamin B
And to quote culinary nutritionista extraordinaire Meghan Telpner, it is important to seek out organic tempeh: 

"The main problem with soy is not really that is has phytoestrogens, or that it has enzyme inhibitors, the problem with soy is that most conventionally grown soy crops are genetically modified…. Organic Tempeh is a probiotic food, which means it helps the body to produce the healthful bacteria, while at the same time has antibiotic properties which help fight down the nasty guys. Tempeh is a complete protein and has soy isoflavones that strengthen bones, help to ease menopause symptoms, reduce risk of coronary hearth disease and some cancers." 

So there you have it folks!  Tempeh is ALL good.  But now that you know what it is, and why you should eat it, how should you prepare it?  Well, fear not, because I'm (finally!) about to tell you!! Tempeh can be used as an alternative to ground meat in chill or in veggie burgers, or, in the recipe I'm going to share today, it's also GREAT to use in a stir fry as a replacement for whatever animal protein you would normally use.  So enough already, I don't want to stir up your tempeh (heh heh) by prolonging this preamble any longer - let's get started! 

Marinated Tempeh
Marinate Time: 2-4 hours or overnight
gluten-free, nut free, refined sugar-free, dairy free

1 250g pkg. tempeh
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil or camelina oil (read about why I love camelina oil here)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. raw honey
1-2 cloves minced garlic

Slice block of tempeh in half width-wise (to make two thinner blocks of tempeh), then chop each thin block into 1/4" pieces.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the above ingredients;  add tempeh to the mixture, and gently toss to coat with the marinade.  Transfer coated tempeh into a large mason jar:

Seal jar tightly, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, or overnight.

I find this to be a super easy way to marinate just about anything (as long as you can fit it through the lid of the mason jar, that is) - this way you can pick up the jar occasionally while the tempeh is marinating, and give it a little shake or roll it around to re-distribute the contents.  Easy peasy, and WAY better for you than marinating it in a plastic bag!

Vegetable Stir Fry with Marinated Tempeh
Vegetable Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
gluten-free, nut free, refined sugar-free, dairy free

2-4 tbsp. olive or camelina oil
Pre-marinated tempeh (recipe above)
1 cup carrots, peeled, and sliced thinly
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets, (including stems)
1 cup red onion, chopped roughly
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped roughly (not pictured above)
1/3 c. snow peas, ends trimmed
1/3 c. sliced crimini mushrooms
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1-1/2 cups baby bok choy, chopped at stem to loosen leaves
2-3 tbsp. low sodium tamari
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Wash and prepare vegetables:

Add 1-2 tbsp. of oil to wok or large skillet.  Heat oil over medium-high heat for about 1 minute.

Add marinated tempeh to wok/skillet, and stir fry/toss until edges are browned and crispy (about 2-3 minutes).

Remove from wok/pan, and set aside:

Add another 1-2 tbsp. of oil to pan (or as necessary), and reheat over medium-high heat for 1 minute.

Add sliced carrots.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, just until carrots begin to soften.

Add all remaining vegetables except baby bok choi - broccoli, red onion, red bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, ginger, and garlic.

Drizzle 1-2 tbsp. tamari over vegetable mixture and stir to coat.

Stir fry vegetable mixture until colours start to brighten and they begin to soften slightly (about 3-4 minutes). This process will happen quite quickly over the high heat - it is important to constantly be moving/tossing/stirring the vegetable mixture:

Add baby bok choy, and return tempeh to mixture to heat through.  Stir fry for about 1 more minute:

Add a pinch or two of sea salt and black pepper (to taste).

Serve over a bed of quinoa or brown rice - and enjoy all that colourful, flavourful, healthful goodness!!

If I do say so myself, this was delicious!  So whaddya say?? Is tempeh something new to you?  If so, I hope I've inspired you to give it a try - and if you are already familiar with tempeh, perhaps this will be a new way to prepare it for you.  Either way, be sure to let me know what you think, and have a happy meatless Monday!  :)


  1. This looks absolutely delicious Noelle! The marinating tip is awesome, doing that from now on. I love tempeh!

  2. Thank you Christa! Yep, I'm a big tempeh fan too (what a difference a year makes!) Glad you like the tip - no muss, no fuss! :)

  3. mmm this looks delicious! Reminds me of the temped we made on Wednesday and I love all the added veggies! Love your blog and recipes :) Beautiful!

  4. Aw thanks, Sofia! Love your blog too - it's gorgeous! Looking forward to working with you again! :)