People trying to eat less meat: Is anyone else 'into' tempeh?

biwako_of_abiJune 23, 2007

Some health food stores sell it, but believe me, it is much more delicious when you make it yourself and eat it fresh, or else freeze it. Looks more appetizing, too!

The Japanese eat tofu; Indonesians eat tempeh. It is one of the two great ways to take in soy protein.

Tempeh is a cheap, nutritious, and pretty easy to digest food made by innoculating dried soybeans (after boiling) with a special starter powder and incubating them in perforated ziploc bags in a cheap styrofoam container such as you might use for a picnic, for about 24 hours. It takes patience to make for the first time or so, but then you get so you can do it pretty easily. The resulting snowy white mycellium (a sort of beneficial mold) binds the beans together so well that you can pick up the bag of beans and they hold their shape just like a book. This you can slice or cube and cook in various ways.

Tempeh itself smells like fresh mushrooms and doesn't have much flavor, so it can be used in a lot of dishes. Think of it as having about as much taste as skinless chicken breasts. It can be cut the way you want it, frozen, and used later. Deep fry it sliced very thin, and dipped in a seasoned batter, or plain. Our favorite is to dip the slices in very salty water with some coriander and crushed garlic and then deep-fry it.) Use in stews, too, or pan fry and steam a square slice about 1/4" thick and use it instead of meat in a sandwich.

If anyone is interested, after much experimenting over the years, I have pretty sure-fire directions for the easiest way to make it and will be happy to email them to anyone who wants them. The starter is available rather cheaply by mail order from a place in Tennessee that started as a farm where a professor and some of his students wanted to live a communal and vegetarian life-style, if I remember correctly, and I think some of them are still living that way. The small packet of starter that I order lasts me for several years (kept in the fridge).

I first learned about tempeh from a great book called The Book of Tempeh, by the same authors as The Book of Tofu and The Book of Miso, all of which I have had for years and love. The Book of Tempeh has ,lots of both Indonesian and Western-style recipes.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Book of Tempeh

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I was also a vegetarian for 16 years. We just added grass fed beef and free range chickens back into our diet. I can not stand anything made from soybeans. Never have been able to. I have used almonds for a good protein source over the years with good results.

There's also the school of thought that soybeans cause too much estrogen.

Like everything else moderation is a good thing. And if you don't have any problems and you LIKE them go for it. I may have to try making some of my own, could be why I don't like it.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 8:08AM
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Your post is very interesting and soybean is a specialty crop where I live. I have made dishes with it and it tastes awful, but processed and cooked as you do sounds very tasty.

We are not into this healthfood stuff....just try to eat a balanced diet. I do miss our own grain fed beef and pork. We can buy chickens raised by local farmers. We still grow our own vegetables and have enough to carry us through the winter. We also like wild game and this year received a good supply of deer meat.

It is interesting how lifestyles and eating habits have changed over time.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 5:27PM
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I have to agree about the taste of soybeans in general, though we like tempeh (fried, only) and tofu. It's great that you can buy local chickens. We once kept hens and loved the delicious eggs we got, feeding them on grains and table scraps and grasshoppers. Ever since the advent of mad cow disease, when we realized that some places feed meat products to cows (which is how mad cow disease got a foothold, right?), we got turned right off on beef. Guaranteed grain-and-nothing-else-fed beef and pork sure sound nice! So does growing your own vegetables. We do have some fruit trees, but our space is very limited.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 6:59PM
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Biwako, I panic if a bird flutters around would never get me in a chicken house! My husband was a farmer and when he asked me to marry him and have a home on his farm, I told him I would not marry him if I had to have any kind of bird in the yard or a pen where our house would be...haha. He remained true to his word and we never raised a chicken!

We don't worry about the BSE in cattle, it is so rare and now highly regulated in Canada and since we are in the heart of where beef & pork are raised our store meats are pretty local. I kinda remember seeing on TV that someone was feeding animal parts I thought to pigs but, yes, that would really turn off one's appetite for meat. I do understand the public concern though and I would probably feel the same way if I lived in a large urban community.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 12:34AM
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That's funny, Jean. I shouldn't laugh at someone else's phobia (having one for spiders, myself), but how good of your husband to keep that promise! In our case, DH had to promise to always let me keep a cat, and he kept his promise, too. He hated cats then, but he has changed over the years, and both the cats we have now love him.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 12:58AM
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I buy tempeh from the store once in a while. So fresh tastes better? Well, it's that way with most other things, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised if you say home made tempeh tastes better. Can you send me the instructions?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 10:11AM
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Sure, MaryLiz. You have mail.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:05PM
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Hi biwako -

I have been a vegetarian for 16+ years. Back then it was very hard to find good veggie food. Now days the possibilities are endless.

IÂm not very familiar with tempeh. I do like tofu when itÂs fried. I like standard recipes like tacos, chili, chicken dishes, meatloaf, etc. I just donÂt like the idea of eating meat. We are now able to buy soy based "chicken, steak strips, ground beef, turkey, shrimp, BBQ ribs, hot dogs, bacon, sausage" and more. Were we live in CA all of these meat substitutes are available at all regular grocery stores in the freezer section. Morning Star Farms makes most of what I mentioned. Gardenburger now makes more than just patties. I donÂt want to sound like a walking billboard, but if anyone is trying to eat less meat, but still wants to eat their favorite recipes, I suggest giving these substitutes a try. The taste and texture is practically identical to the real thing. DH is not a vegetarian, and likes them all.

Will you please send me the tempeh directions? IÂd like to try it. Thanks.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 6:11PM
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I've never tried tempeh, but I love edamame in my salads. I don't mind tofu in sitr frys. I do have a package in the fridge right now because I am going to try some recipes incorporating it into dishes where you supposedly can't tell it's in there.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 6:56PM
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Here's a tofu dish I love: Ma-Bo Do-Fu. Very filling, whether it has meat or not. I have never made it, but I might find a recipe online. There are also spice packets available in the Asian grocery store, but I don't digest those premixed spices very well. Better to make it from scratch.

My favorite place to find recipes is, because people can review the recipes. For example: if they say it was too hot for them and they are going reduce the hot spices next time, then it will be a good indicator for you if you don't like it too spicy.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 3:35PM
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I love tofu!!!! To me it takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.
We are not vegans, but we do try to eat healthy.
Can you please send me the recipe?
Thank you,

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 8:07PM
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I received it!!!!! Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 1:20PM
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Did a search for something else and this thread came up.
Glad it did! ;)
Biwako, I'd love the recipe if it's still available.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 6:19PM
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If you are still offering the tempeh recipe, I'd love to have it.
Thanks, Carolyn

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 12:58PM
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