Tempeh: a fermented food with many benefits
Besides being a great source of protein, tempeh is a famous Indonesian dish made by the controlled fermentation of cooked soybeans with a Rhizopus mold. For a period of over several hundreds of years the Indonesians have learned to perfect the art of making tempeh. Today, tempeh is becoming popular all over the world due to its health benefits, and moreover, it offers a both versatile and delicious taste that consumers from different backgrounds have integrated into their daily meal. The nutty mushroom flavor, the tasty soy and high protein content that tempeh offers are also a preferred food for the vegetarian and vegan consumer. Tempeh is now available in many health food stores, supermarkets as well as Asian grocery stores. A common recipe is to slice or cut the tempeh in cubes and fry it until the surface turns crisp and golden brown. Another recipe is to grate it like cheese, or use it as an ingredient in soups, spreads, salads and sandwiches.
Why I should make my own tempeh?
- It is fairly easy to make your own tempeh. Soybeans are simply soaked overnight, cooked for about 30 minutes and mixed with the tempeh starter. After an incubation time of 36 to 48 hours, tempeh is ready…and fresh! Sometimes it is a tedious task to remove the hulls from the soybeans but luckily you can now purchase de-hulled soybeans so making tempeh should come at an even greater pleasure!
- What’s more, homemade tempeh tastes much better than store bought tempeh. It is fresh, delicious and characterized by a savory, nutty flavor with a firm texture. The flavor and firmness however tend to lessen the longer tempeh is put in storage, the fridge or freezer. But when the tempeh comes straight out of the incubator, it is THE ingredient in making the most delicious meals.
- You even save money by making your own tempeh! It is about FOUR times cheaper than store-bought tempeh.
Why should I eat tempeh?
Tempeh is highly nutritive and contains health promoting phytochemicals like isoflavones and saponins. The fermentation process actually produces natural antibiotic agents while leaving the desirable soy isoflavones as well as the saponins intact. It provides all the essential proteins and their amino acids. In comparison to tofu that is made from a soybean extract, tempeh keeps all the fiber of the original soybean. It’s a healthy dish even for our planet as consumers often replace meat with tempeh, thus reducing the need for land. Greenhouse gas emissions emitted from animal-based food is 250 times higher than that of legumes. What’s even more interesting, is that legumes is agriculturally grown, and thus much healthier! It is a versatile dish, and the easiness of cooking comes from the fact that tempeh absorbs flavor quickly while returning a nutty flavor. Keep in mind that tempeh can be crumbled, sliced, or even cut in cubes.