Vegetarian Cooking: How to Cook Tofu or Tempeh

How to cook tofu and tempeh, tasty tofu & tempeh recipes, tempeh subs for tofu

Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich

After a lot of back and forth, I have finally settled in to my vegetarian lifestyle. I am having trouble finding things to eat, however. I fine myself constantly eating the same meals, and it gets a little bland and boring after a while.

Recently I went to a restaurant and tried a meal using tempeh and absolutely loved the flavor and texture. After going out and buying lots of it, I discovered that I have NO IDEA how to cook it! When I tried it, it tasted like burnt cardboard. Also, I am terrible at cooking tofu. It always comes out a sloppy mess.

I am a decent cook, but I cannot seem to get the hang of this! Any advice on how to cook tempeh, or tofu? – K. Y.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

What to Do with Tempeh:

Hi K. Y. Tempeh should first be steamed for 20 minutes (less if you cut it up), for food safety reasons, as it’s a raw fermented food. Steaming also mellows the flavor and plumps it up. After that, you can fry, barbecue or bake it, add it to stir fries, sandwiches, wraps, sloppy joes, casseroles, stews or whatever you want.

Tempeh Recipe #1: Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich from the 30 Minute Vegan cookbook. BBQ tempeh can also stand in for many of the tofu recipes on Savvy Vegetarian, or you can use it in place of beans.

Tempeh Recipe #2: Thai Kale Tempeh Curry, my favorite way to prepare tempeh. It holds together well, takes on lots of flavor from the marinade and sesame oil, is chewy but has a nice texture, and I didn’t need to use a lot of oil to get a tasty result.

Tempeh Recipe #3: Tempeh Bacon from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. Tempeh bacon is delicious, chewy & substantial, low fat, high protein and vegan. Unlike bacon, it’s a healthy food and won’t clog your arteries.

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What to Do with Tofu:

With tofu, a lot depends on the firmness. Most recipes seem to need firm or even extra firm tofu, and the firmness varies a lot with the brand. You have to try out a few brands available in your area, and see what works best for you.

Try some of our tasty tofu recipes, then you’ll be an expert tofu cook. Start with our basic tofu directions (video included!), and go from there.

About the lack of variety in your diet:

Quinoa Recipe Ebook

Get yourself a few vegetarian cookbooks that appeal to you, and try a new recipe once a week, with at least one unfamiliar ingredient.  Here’s a list of good cookbooks to choose from.

After 52 weeks, your vegetarian recipe repertoire will be greatly expanded.

On the other hand: After umpteen years as a vegetarian, and coming up with new recipes for Savvy Veg all the time, I still tend to make the same six basic recipes, with variations, constantly.

Let’s face it, cooking is faster and easier that way. It’s the many possible variations that save my vegetarian diet from dullness.

All the best, Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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3 Responses to “Vegetarian Cooking: How to Cook Tofu or Tempeh”

  1. Maria Staal says:

    I usually slice the tofu into 1cm thick slices and simply slowly fry them in a fryingpan with some olive oil and some healthy splashes of soy sauce or ketjap manis (sweet sticky soy sauce). Turn the slices regularly and add more soy sauce to make the tofu nice and brown. When the outside of the tofu is crispy they’re done.
    Serve hot with rice or cold, sliced into cubes, with a green salad.

  2. April says:

    I’d like to know what those 6 recipes are…

  3. Molly says:

    As a new vegetarian/vegan, I highly recommend “Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson. It has a bazillion recipes, easy-to-follow instructions, and such a wide variety that just about anyone will be pleased. And it was cheap on :)

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