Once overshadowed by its more popular cousin, tofu, tempeh is fast gaining traction as a powerhouse plant-based protein alternative. Pronounced tem-pay, tempeh are fermented soybean cakes which originates from Indonesia’s island of Java. 

Its earliest record in writing is found in the Serat Centhini, a tome detailing that it has been eaten as far back as the 1600s. Experts believe it’s even older than that. Today, it continues to be a diet staple not just for Indonesians, but vegetarians, vegans and the health-conscious everywhere.

How is tempeh made

Tempeh is made through fermentation. At Tempeh Culture, tempeh is in our cultural DNA. We’re a small family business dedicated to preserving and promoting our culinary heritage, even if it means taking three days to make a batch using artisanal processes.

So what is tempeh? At its most fundamental, tempeh is a soybean patty bound by a fungus known as rhizopus oligosporus. This high protein food has humble origins and is regarded as “the poor man’s meat” in ancient times.

As tempeh spread across the region with Javanese immigrants, tempeh became that high protein food that nourished many Malay kampungs in Singapore as the country went through the Japanese occupation. 

How does tempeh taste? 

The taste of tempeh often differs. It may range from a mild nutty flavour to a strong, savoury taste with a hint of sourness akin to what you might taste in mushrooms. Texture-wise, it is hearty and firm — a strong indication of the amount of protein it contains. 

Health benefits of tempeh

It’s high in protein — one 100 gram slab of tempeh roughly equates to 19 grams of protein, easily equal to a protein shake. Its nutrients are myriad, as it’s rich in vitamin B2, B3, B6, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It’s also cholesterol-free and low in fat. 

How do you cook tempeh

One of the great things about tempeh is its versatility. Slice them lengthwise, like cutlets and pan-sear until crispy. These are delicious when sprinkled with a little sea salt. Personally, we have our tempeh sliced into long french fry strips, with a delicious dip on the side, such as a refreshing mint yogurt dip. If you love a good crunch, always remember the golden rule: The thinner you slice your tempeh, the crispier it will be. Our turmeric tempeh chips are a great example of a healthy snack. 

Prefer your tempeh a little meatier? It can also be cooked into stews, gravies, or baked in larger portions. The possibilities are numerous, but if you need a little inspiration, check out our Recipes section.