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.