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Monday, January 24, 2011

Tempeh vs. Tofu

I'm not your typical vegan. I don't really care for tofu or soy products. I get most of my protein from legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. But, I have recently fell in love with tempeh, which is literally a block of fermented soybeans that like tofu, originated in Asia. In my opinion, tofu is too soft and tasteless, but tempeh has a nice texture and flavor. Since tempeh is less processed than tofu, it is a whole soybean product that has more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. I first tasted tempeh in the "tempeh and white bean 'sausage' patties" recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance. I now substitute black beans for white beans in the recipe and it has become one of my favorite things to make (drizzled with tahini of course!) I've even tried the Vegan With a Vengeance recipe for "tempeh bacon," which is totally addicting! While I usually try to make things from scratch, I have recently become obssessed with Turtle Island Foods' marinated tempeh strips. These are made by the same people that produce Tofurky, and you can find these at Whole Foods or most health food stores. I stocked up on them during a recent sale, and I have been putting them in everything from salads to sandwiches to curries. For lunch yesterday, I tried the coconut curry flavored strips served with a ridiculously easy carrot kinpira salad. As with all soy products, make sure that your tempeh is made with only organic soybeans (most soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified!) Don't completely shun tofu in favor of tempeh though: organic tofu is still a minimally processed healthy food that is even more versatile than tempeh. I will have to give tofu another chance--I hear that pressing it improves the texture. I have a block of tofu in the fridge right now, so I think I know what my next project is...


  1. I can't wait to try it. We're new vegetarians,one of us was a HUGE meat eater and having a difficult time but after seeing a video of the abuse that the animals went through, God Bless him, he decided to change. We tried tofu and discarded it, but that was before I just read how to remove the excess liquid, so will have to try that again, but this tempeh sounds wonderful! I hope all of these packaged products aren't loaded with chemicals though. Does anyone know? Thanks, Nancy

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Tempeh really is wonderful! Most recipes will tell you to lightly steam it first, and when you do so it might taste funny the first time you try it plain. However, like tofu, it will take on any flavors you cook it in. If you can find a little bottle of liquid hickory smoke flavor in the store, definitely try to make tempeh bacon. And as for tofu - I will be posting a recipe soon for making a tofu quiche that rivals the original cheese, egg, and cream version.

    Best of luck on your vegetarian journey!

  3. Try freezing your tofu. Upon thawing and draining, you will notice a very different texture.

    1. I did that this past week by accident!....the lower shelf of my refrigerator gets much colder than the rest of it, so half of my tofu block froze! It was definitely chewier.