Tempeh: An ancient food in the modern world!

May 5, 2023 | Green Cuisine Blog, Green Cuisine Products, News | 0 comments

Not everyone knows about this amazing plant protein that has existed since ancient times! Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food that has been consumed for centuries. It is made from cooked and fermented soybeans. Tempeh has a rich flavour, nutty aroma, and a firm texture. In this blog, we will explore its history, nutritional value, sustainability aspects, uses in cooking, importance in food security, and social justice through tempeh.

History of Tempeh

Tempeh has a long and interesting history dating back to ancient Indonesia. Tempeh was first documented in the 1600s in Tembayat Village, Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia. Java Island is one of Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands where tempeh is most spread and consumed. Tempeh was believed to be discovered by accident when cooked soybeans were left to ferment in Indonesia’s warm, humid climate. Tempeh quickly became a staple food in Indonesia and is now consumed worldwide. Tempeh processing could be the oldest food technology in the history of the Javanese people. Serat Centhini, a book published in the 16th century, indicates that its publication produced and consumed tempeh. Tempeh might have been introduced by the Chinese, making a similar product, soybean koji, dehulled soybeans fermented with Aspergillus molds. The use of Rhizopus as a tempeh starter in Indonesia may have been due to its better adaptation to the Indonesian climate. A European’s earliest reference to tempeh appeared in 1875 in a Javanese-Dutch dictionary. The rise of tempeh’s popularity in Java and its spread to other parts of Indonesia and other countries of the world began in the 20th century. In the 1970s, plastic bags replaced the banana leaf as a container for tempeh production.

Making of Tempeh

Rhizopus oligosporus is a fungus of the family Mucoraceae and is a widely used starter culture for tempeh production. Tempeh can also be made with any beans, legumes, pulses, seeds, and rice! We have a variety of tempeh made from soy, sunflower seeds, and multigrain. The beans are cooked, and the culture – Rhizopus oligosporus is added to it. This is mixed well and compacted into plastic bags perforated with holes. It is left to ferment at ambient temperature for 24 to 72 hours. First, the soybeans are soaked in water to soften them. This process makes the beans easier to cook. Next, the soybeans are cooked in water until they are tender. The beans are then cooled down and mixed with a culture of Rhizopus mold. The mixture of soybeans and Rhizopus mold is then left to ferment for about 24-48 hours in a warm, humid environment. During fermentation, the Rhizopus mold grows and binds the soybeans together, forming a cake-like structure. This process not only gives tempeh its unique flavor and texture but also helps to increase its nutritional value. As the Rhizopus mold grows, it breaks down the complex carbohydrates in the soybeans, making them easier to digest. This process also increases the amount of protein and other nutrients in the tempeh, making it a nutritious food choice. The fermentation process also produces enzymes that help break down the soybean’s phytic acid, which can interfere with nutrient absorption. After fermentation, the tempeh is removed from the warm, humid environment and allowed to cool down. Once it is cool, the tempeh is ready to eat or can be stored in the refrigerator for later use. Tempeh can be sliced, crumbled, or even grilled for a meaty texture. It is also a great substitute for meat in vegan and vegetarian recipes. In addition to soybeans, tempeh can also be made with other legumes or grains, such as chickpeas, barley, rice, or quinoa. These varieties add diversity to our diets and help promote sustainable agriculture. By incorporating tempeh into our diets, we can enjoy its unique flavor and texture while also supporting sustainable food systems.

Uses of Tempeh in Cooking

Tempeh is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. It can be sliced, crumbled, or even grilled for a meaty texture. Tempeh is also a great substitute for meat in vegan and vegetarian recipes. Due to its unique flavor and texture, tempeh can be used in a wide range of dishes, including stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, soups, and stews. We have many Tempeh recipes on our blog and also serve many tempeh dishes in our restaurant.

Nutritional Value of Tempeh

Tempeh is a nutritional powerhouse that is packed with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is also high in antioxidants and has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve heart health.

A 100g serving of soy tempeh provides:

  • 166Kcal / 697KJ
  • 20.7g Protein
  • 6.4g Fat
  • 6.4g Carbohydrate
  • 5.7g Fibre
  • 3.6mg Iron
  • 120mg Calcium
  • 70mg Magnesium
  • 200mg Phosphorus

Sustainability Aspects of Tempeh

Sustainability is a major concern in today’s world. Fortunately, tempeh is a sustainable food choice as it requires fewer resources to produce than animal-based protein sources. It also has a lower carbon footprint and uses less water than many other crops. Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, which reduces the amount of methane and greenhouse gases produced by animal agriculture. By incorporating tempeh into our diets, we can reduce our impact on the environment and promote sustainable agriculture.

Importance of Tempeh in Food Security

Food security is a major concern in many parts of the world, especially in areas where resources are limited. Tempeh is an important food source for many people around the world as it is a cheap and easy-to-produce source of protein and other essential nutrients. It can be made with just a few simple ingredients, making it an ideal food for people in developing countries. By promoting the consumption of tempeh, we can help improve food security for those in need.

Incorporating Tempeh into Global Cuisine

Incorporating tempeh into global cuisine is a great way to promote cultural diversity and celebrate traditional foods and cuisines. Tempeh is an affordable and sustainable food source that can be grown and produced locally. By incorporating it into different cuisines, we can help make it more accessible and create new markets for its production. In addition to its nutritional and environmental benefits, tempeh can also help promote cultural diversity and celebrate traditional foods and cuisines. Tempeh is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world as more people become aware of its nutritional and environmental benefits. It is widely available in grocery stores, health food stores, and our Green Cuisine restaurant in various flavors, including pre-cooked, spicy flavored, and smoked. Tempeh can also be found in restaurants as a meat alternative in dishes such as curries, pizzas, burgers, tacos, and sandwiches. By incorporating it into our diets and promoting its consumption, we can help improve food security, support local economies, and create a more just and sustainable food system.

Social Justice Through Tempeh

Tempeh can also be a tool for social justice. By teaching and promoting the consumption of tempeh, we can support local farmers and producers, and help create jobs and economic opportunities in smaller communities. Tempeh can also be used to promote cultural diversity and celebrate traditional foods and cuisines. Additionally, by reducing our reliance on animal agriculture, we can help reduce the negative impact it has on animal welfare. Tempeh can be produced on a small scale, making it an ideal food source for those in developing countries. The production process is simple and only requires a few ingredients, making it a cost-effective food source to eradicate poverty.

Food is a powerful catalyst to bring about change in our current capitalistic system and to serve justice to those who are hungry. It is important to preserve ancient knowledge through food as it can reach everyone effectively and shape our social economics. With minimal impact on the planet, tempeh is the future of sustainable eating. Let us eat responsibly for a better world.