Recently I’ve been making my own tempeh and I am hooked. The flavor is unprecedented, a complete 180 from store bought tempeh. If you have had store bought tempeh and don’t like the bitterness of it, homemade tempeh has none of that. The fermented cake gets it’s flavor from Rhizopus oligosporus, a mold similar to bread mold. The bacterium helps to partially digest the beans making the amino acids (protein) and minerals easier to digest and absorb.
Nutrition aside, tempeh is one of the cheapest sources of protein. Grocery store prices are rising and protein is usually one of the most expensive items in the cart. If you’re looking to add a low-cost, nutrient dense protein into meals, tempeh is an excellent choice. Tempeh has a rich, nutty, mushroom like flavor and can be substituted in any recipe. My favorite way to serve tempeh is to lightly fry it and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Creamy, garlic tahini sauce with fried tempeh is delicious!
You will need to purchase a starter. There are a few places online to get it, http://www.tempehonline.com is a great place and you will get the starter in a few days. While your there, you can pick up a tofu starter as that is the next cooks class topic I will be sharing. I am using soybeans in this starter recipe because they are easier to master than other types. However, you can use any type of bean you like. (Garbanzo bean tempeh changes lives and is perfect in your favorite pasta sauce).
3 cups whole soybeans (about 1lb.)
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. tempeh starter
Soak the beans overnight or 6-8 hours. From here you will need to remove the outer hull of the bean. The easiest way is to crack the beans in a food processor or with an emulsion blender. Transfer the beans to a food processor and pulse a few times. Rub the beans until the skins fall off. I place the beans in a large bowl and add water to cover. As you rub the beans the hull will rise to the top and you can scrape it off.
Cook the beans for 30-45 minutes until done. Drain the beans and dry thoroughly. Moisture is the enemy of spore growth so your beans must be dried completely.
Now you have to prep a container for incubation. You can use trays and they are definitely a greener alternative to plastic bags but I don’t think they make a good cake. In my experience, the bottom doesn’t firm up quite right. If you’ve used trays successfully, please let me know your method! I use sandwich plastic bags. Whatever you use, poke holes using a pin ¾” to and 1” apart. This will allow the mold to breathe.
Place the dried soybeans in a bowl, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and mix together. Add the tempeh starter and mix well.
Now you’re ready to fill the bags! Fill them halfway, seal and pack flat in a uniform layer no more than 1 inch thick.
There are lots of ways you can incubate your tempeh, a food dehydrator or yogurt maker works great. If your oven has a pilot light or proofing light, you can use that just add a thermometer to check the internal temperature. You might need to crack the oven door every now and then to keep the oven at the right temperature of 83-90°F for 22-28 hours. Make sure not to go over 90 as you will kill the starter and allow unwanted bacteria to grow. After 16 or so hours, you can reduce the temperature as the fermentation is now generating it’s own heat.
Once the cake is solid and has a mushroomy aroma, your tempeh is done. You can use right away, refrigerate or freeze. The flavor stays the same after freezing so you can make a batch to keep in the freezer. Take care not to stack them in the fridge as the internal heat will make the cake continue to ferment.
I hope you will try making your own tempeh. I know it seems like a lot of steps but like anything, once you do it a few times it becomes very easy. A second note, don’t be discouraged if your tempeh does not set up correctly the first time. I don’t know why but the first batch or so never turns out right at least with people I’ve talked to. So, start in small batches until you get it right. My first time was a disaster but the second attempt came out perfectly.
I will be posting a new amazing tempeh and asparagus recipe this week, just in time for your fresh tempeh use! What are your favorite tempeh recipes?
Oh la la, I got major brownie points for this one! We have been eating a lot of big, hearty salads lately and this is my newest creation. BL really liked it, spinach, lettuce, shredded carrots, crunchy noodles and crispy chinese fried ‘chicken.’
A word on frying: make sure your oil is hot enough. I use a thermometer to ensure that the oil is around 360 degrees. When the oil is too cold, more oil is absorbed by the food. Plus, unsaturated fats ARE beneficial! Polyunsaturated oils like Canola is a good choice.
Oriental Chicks Salad
Seitan Patties (from Our Veggie Kitchen)
¼ cup water
½ cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
Greens: leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, cabbage
5 carrots, shredded
Chow mein noodles
Crispy wonton strips
3 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. siracha sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. fresh ginger
½ cup oil
Combine the soy sauce, hoisin and water in a bowl. Cube the seitan and place in the marinade mixture. Let sit 20 minutes while you prepare the vegetables and dressing.
In a food processor or small blender, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the greens, shredded carrots, chow mein noodles, almonds, and wonton strips.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a heavy bottomed pan until the oil reaches at least 350 degrees (but not more than 400 degrees) Combine the flour, baking soda and nutritional yeast. Remove the seitan pieces from the marinade mixture and cover with the flour mixture. Drop the coated pieces into the hot oil and cook 2-3 minutes each side until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.
Add the crispy seitan pieces to the salad and toss with the dressing. Top with scallions.
The Superbowl is definitly considered a major holiday to BL. We usually make a day out of it, and this year was no exception. I made my mini corn dogs featured on Betty Confidential and had a build your own chili and taco bar.
Of course I forgot my camera, but here’s a snap shot of part of the spread (Thanks AV!). I really do love days eating delicious food and spending quality time with friends.
My mini corn dogs aren’t going to win any health awards, but they are really delicious and fun! I served them with my spicy mustard and ketchup.
1 package of soy hotdogs
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon. baking powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoons maple syrup (or 1 tablespoon sugar)
3/4-1/2 cup light soymilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 F, and grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Mix flour, baking powder, cornmeal, salt, spices, oil, 1/2 cup milk and syrup together. After it is mixed, slowly add more milk until the mixture is wet, and thick enough to cover a spoon. Make sure to mix this well. (If your using a vitamix to blend this up- you might need more liquid. The first time I tested this by hand I only needed 3/4 cup of milk. When I make it in the blender yesterday, I added about 1 1/4 cups )
Cut the dogs into thirds and dip each dog into the mixture. Place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown; rotate after 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can fry them in hot oil (350 degrees) for a minute or so- until golden and crisp.
Confession time: we probably eat stir-fry at least twice a week. It’s a great way to pack a ton of vegetables into a meal and the warm, spicy sauce tastes like comfort food to me. I recently made this for our stir-fry night and it was a big hit. I used seitan in this recipe, but you could substitute any protein you have on hand.
Sweet and Sour Stir Fry
1 lb seitan, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sugar snap peas, halved
3 carrots, sliced
2 tbsp. oil or vegetable broth
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. corn starch
3 tbsp. ketchup
3 tbsp. maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
1/4 cup water
Mix together the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce and set aside. Heat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp. broth or oil. Once heated through, add the garlic and quickly toss for 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
Add the seitan to the garlic oil and fry for 5-6 minutes until the seitan cooks through and has a nice crust on it. Add the carrots, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for another minute. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the sauce. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Serves 4. Per serving: 240 cal, 7g fat, 33g protein