A Chef’s Simple Tips to Make Flavorful, Delicious Tempeh
Not only does tempeh have incredible protein content (double that of tofu), but it is also packed with fiber (7g per serving) and is a clean label protein with only a handful of ingredients. Considering how critical that fiber is to your gut health (and as a result, mental health) as well as satiety, this makes it a premier source of plant-based protein, but many find the food tough to prepare in a way that makes it as delicious as other meat alternatives.
My father, a classically trained chef, has been super skeptical of tempeh ever since I first brought it into the house months ago. He gave it two separate efforts in the past and wasn’t thrilled with the result, despite me thinking it was good, proclaiming, “If I can’t make it taste good, then nobody can.” I challenged him to give it one more shot and try a new method. The result, tempeh tacos, was better than either of us anticipated.
The big shift between previous stir-fries we attempted and these scrumptious tacos is that we steamed the tempeh and marinated it prior to cooking. Steaming tempeh makes a big difference as it helps to remove bitterness while softening it, which allows it to better absorb the marinade - and this marinade is not to be missed. It has a noticeable kick, but it is far more from flavor than spice. If you don’t have Tajin seasoning, then I recommend buying some because it’s a game-changer: Even beyond this recipe, you can use it to garnish cocktails or coat popcorn or sprinkle on fruit or so much more.
This tempeh bursts with loud flavors, but is not overly spicy. My mom also loved the tempeh, and even declared that “You wouldn’t even know it’s not meat!” My dad was visibly pleased after the first bite - finally, he had conquered making tempeh tasty to his standard.
The best part about this discovery? It means we get to keep trying new recipes with tempeh, and my dad is eating more plants – a true win-win!
Marinated Tempeh Tacos
Yield: 4 servings of two tacos
For the Tempeh Marinade
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Tajin seasoning
- 1 tablespoon tomato sauce
- 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh, steamed for about 10 minutes and cooled
For the Filling
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ pound steamed then marinated tempeh
- ¼ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup diced bell pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 seeded jalapeno, minced
- 8 ounces chili beans, undrained
- 8 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 Cassava tortillas warmed just prior to serving
- 1 cup plant-based cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of salsa
- 1 cup shredded lettuce
- Your favorite hot sauce (Dad went old school: Tabasco)
For the Marinade
- Whisk together lime juice, oil, tamari, chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin, Tajin and tomato sauce in a wide, shallow dish.
- Place steamed tempeh in the dish, turn to coat all over with marinade
- Cover and marinate for 2 hours at room temp or in the refrigerator overnight, turning tempeh a couple of times.
For the Filling
- Grate tempeh on cheese grater OR chop into small pieces
- In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add tempeh, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno and sauté until vegetables are tender and tempeh is broken up into small pieces.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.