Tempeh Health:

Tempeh: Health Benefits and Recipe

By Dr. Ben Kim

I had my first taste of tempeh back in 2000 when I was living in northern California. A friend prepared it with flavored rice - the kind used to make sushi rolls - and served it up with a huge platter of fresh vegetables. Talk about a mouthful of goodness - I still remember being dazzled by mini-explosions of flavor as I enjoyed tempeh for the first time.

If you've never tried tempeh, I encourage you to give it a go - tempeh is a healthy, protein-rich plant food that is well worth adding to your diet.

Tempeh is best described as a chewy, slightly nutty, and hearty soybean cake. It's made by fermenting cooked soybeans, and is, for all practical purposes, free of phytates and other compounds that give soy a bad name in some healthy eating circles.

Because of its dense, chewy texture, tempeh provides a meat-like mouth feel, much like perfectly sauteed oyster mushrooms do.

These days, you can find tempeh in the refrigerated section of health food stores and even in most big grocery stores. And of course, you can find tempeh in just about any Korean, Chinese, or Japanese food market.

When choosing tempeh, look for one with relatively uniform color; you don't want tempeh that has any dark spots, which usually means that the tempeh is old.

Most stores carry two varieties of tempeh: cooked and uncooked.

Cooked tempeh is usually sliced thin, and has been marinated to increase flavor. Packages of cooked tempeh are usually labeled as being "ready to eat."

Uncooked tempeh is best cooked before use. Tempeh is typically steamed, baked, or fried; steaming is the healthiest cooking method for just about all foods, including tempeh.

Healthy Tempeh Recipes

Crispy Tempeh

A quick and tasty way to use tempeh is to marinate bite-size pieces in a blend of soy sauce (2/3), sesame oil (1/3), and a touch of honey, and to sautee the tempeh in olive oil over low heat. Cook slowly and stir often for between 10 to 15 minutes - the result will be crispy mouthfuls of flavor that you can add to salads and any grain dishes you enjoy.

If you purchase tempeh that has already been marinated, skip the marinating step and sautee straight away. If you marinate your tempeh before cooking, you can marinate anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours in the refrigerator.

Tempeh Sandwich Filler

Another simple way to prepare tempeh is to make a tuna-like sandwich filler that you can eat with a pita, baguette, crackers, or your favorite whole grain bread.


8 ounces tempeh, chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup of your favorite mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper, to taste


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to mix well until you get a tuna-like consistency.

2. Serve with any of the choices listed above, and refrigerate leftovers in a covered container. This tempeh sandwich filler stays fresh for at least two days.

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