The short history of me and tempeh:
Tempeh is not always easy to find in my quaint little city, so I haven’t had many occasions to experience first-hand the variety and unique texture of the hearty and healthy fermented soybean cake.
Not being a terribly big fan of the taste or texture of bean curd, I was keen to try out this much-lauded alternative to tofu. I grilled thin slices soaked in a bacon-style marinade, but it turns out I don’t miss bacon like I thought I would. In fact, I found the rich sweetness of the marinade to be so cloying it was inedible to me, and this taste trauma inevitably tainted my first real experience with tempeh.
After doing some research on the health benefits, the global community of tempeh lovers and the variety of recipes in which it was called for, I attempted to overcome my terrible first impression by incorporating the substance into my household’s go-to evening meal. I simmered chunky tempeh cubes (pre-boiled, as per internet tips on reducing bitterness) in a tomato-based veggie-ful sauce and served it with couscous. This time, I noticed a sharp tang and squeaky texture that I found surprising and disconcerting.
Finally, inspired by a giddy and hunger-induced simultaneous purchase of three packages of tempeh in the wake of my local supermarket restocking their meat analogue section, I decided to try tempeh once (or three times) more.
The ‘Chili sin Carne al Mole’ recipe from the deservedly-idolised Vegan with a Vengeance was calling me, and I decided to replace the seitan in the ingredient list with crumbled tempeh. And verily, I was converted.
Here’s what I did: I took one 300g package of organic Nutrisoy Tasty Tempeh, then tied my jumper around my shoulders and went for a walk with my sweetie. Or, more accurately, I crumbled the tempeh into a big saucepan and sauteed it with some crushed garlic and yummy chili mole spices. The tempeh broke up nicely, became really soft and soaked up the flavours of the sauce, while adding a thick, chewy density to it. If there are any tempeh haters out there, please don’t be a cynic like me—swallow that pride and try the crumble-sautee method. You may just like it.