There is a little inexpensive cookbook entitled “Green Cuisine’s Great Little Tempeh Cookbook” at the restaurant counter, written by Green Cuisine’s owner, Andy. I’ve looked through it, and it is very inspiring. I realized, however, that I really didn’t know much about tempeh at all. What exactly is tempeh, and where does it come from anyway? I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you here. I’ve also included a delectable recipe.


Stacks of tempeh in Indonesia, wrapped in banana leaves

Tempeh-What is This Stuff?


I’m about to start cooking some tempeh. Join me!

Tempeh is a traditional food hailing from Indonesia, where it is a staple in the Indonesian diet. There you can find large cakes of tempeh at the market, wrapped in banana leaves. How is this mysterious cake of soybeans made? Initially, soybeans are cracked, de-hulled, and washed. The beans are then soaked and boiled. When they are soft, the beans are dried. Simple enough. And here comes the interesting part: a culture of Rhizopus oligosporous, a mould, is introduced to the beans, which are then bagged and sealed to allow for fermentation to take place. In Indonesia, tempeh can be left to ferment at room temperature, but in Canada, we use commercial incubators to allow for optimal temperature and humidity conditions. During fermentation, the Rhizopus mould forms a tangly mass of white mycelia, which enables the soybeans to pack together into a cake form. This process produces enzymes that break down the soybeans, causing the product to be more digestible. For instance, the oligosaccharides in the beans that can cause bloating and indigestion are decreased upon fermentation. The result is a flavourful, firmly textured, digestible cake of soybeans that is very high in protein. 

 High in Nutrition. And it Tastes Good

Yes, tempeh is very high in protein. A gift to vegetarians and vegans. Compared to a 100 grams serving of grilled steak, which contains 25 grams of protein, a 100 grams serving of tempeh has 19 grams of protein. Tempeh also is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Some people prefer tempeh over tofu and vegan imitation-meat products, as tempeh is a less processed food because it is a whole soybean product. The tempeh made by Green Cuisine is derived from organic soybeans grown on Canadian family farms, and all the tempeh is pre-cooked, which makes it easier to work with.

There are Different Kinds of Tempeh

I’ll admit that before I started messing around in the kitchen with the Green Cuisine brand soybean tempeh that I found in local grocery stores, I’ve never cooked tempeh before. I really like the way it is served at Green Cuisine. In Indonesia, it is common to pan fry or even deep fry tempeh and serve it with sauce. You don’t even have to stop at soybean tempeh. Tempeh can also be made from seeds such as sunflower seeds (sunflower seed tempeh is available at Green Cuisine’s products section), flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and grains such as barley, millet, and rice. There is a Green Cuisine seven-grain tempeh variety that you can try. Other beans such as black beans or chickpeas can also yield tempeh. If you really want to, you can even produce your own tempeh. You can go here to learn how to do that.

Here is a recipe from the “Great Little Tempeh Cookbook”. Have fun cooking and enjoy your tempeh!


Chili Lime Tempeh

1 package Simply Soybean Tempeh

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed chilies

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

4 tablespoons lime juice

Cut tempeh into 8 squares. Mix everything else together and pour over tempeh. Let sit for 2-4 hours. Place tempeh and marinade in a pan and cook covered for 5 minutes. Turn tempeh over and cook on other side until liquid is absorbed. Excellent served in a wrap with some crispy salad veggies.