Steamed Tempeh

by mary on September 24, 2012

tempeh in a metal steaming insert in a pot

Steaming tempeh.

What to to with that cake of tempeh you just bought? The good news is that these days most supermarket tempeh is already pre-cooked, so you can’t really mess it up. Check the package, of course, but pre-cooked brands include Turtle Island, Trader Joe’s, Lightlife, and Westsoy.

Steaming pre-cooked tempeh before you use it in your recipe is optional. I often bake or fry tempeh without steaming it first, but there are reasons to steam it. Steaming plumps and moistens the tempeh and helps it absorb a marinade or sauce better. It can also improve the flavor. Some people find un-steamed tempeh’s flavor to have a bitter edge. I don’t know whether that’s due to differences in brands, taste buds, or both. I find tempeh naturally sweet, nutty, and mild whether I steam it or not. I’m currently using Turtle Island tempeh, but I’ve used and enjoyed other brands in the past.

To steam the tempeh, slice and chop it into small chunks and put it in a steamer insert or basket. Put a couple inches of water in a big pot and set the steamer insert into the pot. Once the water’s hot enough, let the tempeh steam, covered, for about ten minutes.

Now you can use the tempeh however you want. Marinate, bake, or throw into a sauce.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Theresa September 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Great informative post. I always try and steam my tempeh before marinating or cooking with it. Really improves the flavor and becomes more porous for marinating!
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mary September 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

Thanks, Theresa! I don’t always steam the tempeh– I like the flavor fine just as and often bake or fry it that way– but I do steam it when I want it softened or better able to pick up the flavors of a sauce.
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Joanne September 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I like the idea of steaming tempeh. I’m usually at a loss to find variety for it and end up with the same old, same old.
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mary September 27, 2012 at 12:20 am

Thanks, Joanne! I’ll be posting my tempeh sloppy joe recipe very soon, that’s often what I’m steaming the tempeh for.
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Kiersten September 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I’ve steamed tempeh when a recipe calls for it, but other than that I usually don’t. I should do it more often–I’m not crazy about the flavor of tempeh, although some brands are definitely better than others!
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Kiran October 8, 2012 at 5:15 am

Never thought of steaming tempeh, ever. Neat idea :)
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mary October 8, 2012 at 5:18 am

Thanks!
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