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T is for tempeh

I like to think there are very few vegan things that I don't eat. Most things you can drop on my plate, and I'll get stuck in.

I do have one culinary nemesis though: tempeh.

The first time I cooked it - in a casserole - the result was so disgusting I had to chuck it in the bin. The second time, I tried it in a sandwich. That, too, went binwards. "It tastes," said my other half, "like dust." He was being generous.

Me and tempeh parted ways for some years after that, until I tried a tempeh sandwich at the now-defunct Shoreditch branch of Saf, and it persuaded me that maybe it was worth another go. Vegan Mofo seemed the perfect time to face my tempeh demons and try making it at home.

The first recipe I tried was tempeh bacon from Vegan with a Vengeance. I boiled the tempeh for half an hour, then made up the marinade and let it stew for a whole day before frying it up and making it into a tempeh bacon BLT. I was taking no chances!


With a great deal of trepidation, I took a bite. Then, with less trepidation, I took another. And another.

Hooray - I didn't gag at all. It wasn't disgusting. Sweet mary jane - what miracle was this?! Granted, I couldn't taste much apart from the marinade, but that's often the case with tofu, and I eat that often enough.

So me and tempeh had something of a rapprochement that day - but was I ready to let it move its stuff back in?

Next up, I turned to the ever reliable  Robin Roberteson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes for inspiration, settling on the spagetti and T-balls recipe as my next foray into all things tempeh.

I boiled the tempeh for half an hour, like a good vegan, then drained it. But curiosity overcame me, like Lot, and I had to take a bite of the denuded tempeh - I had to know had my tastes changed, or was tempeh suddenly not grim?

The answer to that particular pop quiz was: it's still grim if you eat it unadulterated. Mince it up with herbs and garlic and vital wheat gluten and shiz, turn it into T-balls, and you're away.

I asked my other half for his opinion. "You made dust taste nice," he said. And what finer praise is there than that?

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  1. I feel exactly the same way about tempeh and haven't changed my mind yet...loving your mofo posts by the way :)

  2. I LOVED tempeh but no longer eat it. I never had an issue with it but I do think that boiling or steaming it helps a lot.

    My fave tempeh recipes are serving it with peanut sauce + veggies or on a burger, the hot sauce tempeh from VCon and the tempeh wings from Don't Eat Off The Sidewalk :)

  3. I love tempeh and almost never steam it before stir-frying or grilling. I should get more adventurous, though, and try more tempeh recipes. Your two trials looks like they came out great!

  4. Tempeh and I had a rough start too! And yeah, it wasn't until I ate it at some restaurant that I discovered it was probably my fault the tempeh was shitty. And making dust taste nice is pretty much the highest praise there is, ha ha. :)

  5. I'm glad you and tempeh have reached some sort of peace. I was about to say I love tempeh, but then I realized I almost always soak it in some kind of marinade, usually involving maple syrup, so what's not to love?

  6. I am a massive tempeh lover and can eat it straight from the pack! My ex-boyfriend absolutely hated it although he did eat and enjoy the tempeh wings I made from the Don't Eat off the Sidewalk zine.

  7. I totally relate to this post as I still struggle to enjoy tempeh consistently! I think the first recipe I tried was the VWAV tempeh bacon which I wasn't very keen on but this was after making tofu bacon which still remains as our favourite facon. I like tempeh in herby balls like these ones and I enjoyed Vegan Dad's tempeh burgers too. I love the dust comment, that is very high praise!

  8. I don't love tempeh, but have tried to love it. I think I would like tempeh bacon though - it needs to be seasoned, and all of the tempeh I've tried has been chewy and bland for the most part!

  9. Lul at your partner's glowing review! I love tempeh, but not the kind that I can buy here in Townsville. So we barely ever eat it! I have a great recipe for BBQ baked tempeh that I should share, though...

  10. I've never been a fan of tempeh either, so I'm impressed too that you managed to make it tasty!

  11. It took me so long to like Tempeh! I first liked it in the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Vegan Brunch and then as VWAV tempeh bacon. I still can't handle it cubed but in thin slices or mashed up I love it!


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