On first sight, tempeh is easily the
scariest of the soy foods. Its lumpy, bumpy, and an unappealing shade
of beige-y gray. You can't be blamed for not wanting to put such an object
in your mouth.
If you do, though, your bravery will be rewarded. Tempeh is a tasty,
hearty, and (yes!) versatile food that can nicely round out a meat-free
or meat-scant diet.
Essentially, tempeh consists of fermented soy beans tightly packed into
firm cakes. It can be made solely of soybeans or mixed with grains, and
it's a staple food item in Indonesia . It has a tougher, nutty taste
and texture. Most recipes suggest that you steam cubes of tempeh before
preparing, which helps to tenderize it, though if you're frying it, you
can skip this step.
As for its much lauded versatility, tempeh can be sliced and sauteed,
fried, or grilled. It can be crumbled and added to chili. Cubes of it
can be simmered in stew, or it can be grated and mixed with other seasonings
to make sandwich fillings.