Sweet Heat Tempeh

Tempeh sauteed with a spicy sweet glaze and served over bok choy and wheat berries. Healthy and delicious!


Sweet Heat Tempeh

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I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater. Probably not Bizarre Foods adventurous, but you can pretty much bet that if I come over to your house, I’ll eat whatever you put in front of me.

This has almost always been true about me, but has definitely been amped up over the last few years via Macheesmo. Now when I see something new, it’s not that I’ll eat it if it’s served to me, it’s that I develop a deep need not only eat the stuff, but cook with it, and make it delicious.

Enter tempeh. I’ve had this stuff only a handful of times and I’ve never felt confident enough about the dish to post on it. But this time the dish was worth posting. It was like I accidentally unlocked the secret tempeh code of the universe. It’s spicy and slightly sweet and pretty awesome.

In Oprah fashion, this dish is one of my favorite things and if I could, I would send you all home with your very own sample.

Sweet Heat Tempeh

Serves 2
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Tempeh sauteed with a spicy sweet glaze and served over bok choy and wheat berries. Healthy and delicious!


8 ounces tempeh (any flavor will work)
1 clove garlic
2 inches fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 Cup orange juice
1/4 Cup honey
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 Tablespoon neutral oil (for cooking)
Cilantro (opt. garnish)


1) Chop tempeh into bite-sized pieces.

2) In a small bowl, mix all the other ingredients (except the neutral oil).  Whisk together well.

3) Add a drizzle of neutral oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

4) Once hot, add tempeh and cook for a few minutes per side until tempeh is lightly browned.

5) Add glaze to pan and cook until glaze reduces a bit and sticks to tempeh, about 2 minutes.

6) Remove and serve with greens and rice or wheat berries.

Let’s Talk Tempeh

If you’ve never have tempeh, it’s very similar to tofu except, I think maybe better in some cases. Tempeh is made with soy beans, just like tofu, except the beans aren’t mashed. So it’s a lot firmer and has a very different texture. Also, they ferment the soy beans and then add in other flavors as well.

I can’t really think of anything that has a similar texture to tempeh. It’s firm, but also kind of light. It has a bite to it, but isn’t crunchy at all.

I think it’s actually a lot easier to work with than tofu. You don’t have to press it or worry about it sticking or falling apart. It just works.

You can find it these days around the tofu in most supermarkets but it probably won’t be very prominent. You could also just ask someone in the supermarket for it which at a minimum will give you some entertainment because they will have no idea what you’re talking about.

Strange stuff…

Assuming you can find some of this stuff though, cooking it is actually a breeze. Pop it out of the wrapper and chop it into bite-sized pieces.

I sliced mine into 1/4 inch strips and then sliced those down the middle. This stuff cuts really easily.

Flying by the seat of my pants.

The Glaze

The thing about tempeh though (much like tofu) is that I find it pretty bland on its own.

And I don’t really do bland.

So I came up with this quick little Asian sweet heat glaze that was really awesome with the tempeh.

You’ll need this stuff.

sweet heat
These guys I know!

Be sure to chop up the garlic and ginger really well and then whisk everything together. Set this aside until you need it.

Glaze on!

Like I mention in the recipe, I also quickly sauteed some bok choy for the dish. You could use a lot of different greens for this, but I do think some veggies is a good addition if you want to make a whole meal out of this.

bok choy
For later.

Cooking the Tempeh

This stuff is pretty much the easiest stuff to cook in the world. You don’t need to worry about cooking it all the way through like meat and it won’t fall apart like tofu does.

It’s pretty fail safe actually.

Just add a few Teaspoons of neutral oil to a large skillet and put it over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add all the tempeh and try to spread it out into an even layer. Let the tempeh cook for a few minutes on each side.

It should get lightly golden brown, like this:

So far so good.

Next, turn your heat down a bit (to mediumish) and pour in your glaze. Give this a good stir so the glaze coats all the tempeh pieces evenly.

Continue to cook for another minute or two until the glaze thickens and sticks to all the pieces.

It’s a beautiful thing.

So far really good!

Whatever greens you choose to use, you can cook them in the same skillet. Just scoop out the tempeh and then add all the greens with maybe another drizzle of oil if the pan is dry.

I served the tempeh over some cooked wheat berries and bok choy with some cilantro on top.

finished dish
Awesome meal.

This actually turned out to be a pretty spicy dish. The wheat berries and greens help kill the heat a bit.

If you refuse to venture into the land of the tempeh, you could use this glaze for all kinds of things from chicken to tofu as well.

Anybody a tempeh fan out there? Did I just turn anybody into one?

12 Responses to “Sweet Heat Tempeh” Leave a comment

  1. I had heard of tempeh but didn't know what it was. That's for such a great explanation. Not sure if you've created a fan yet, but I am excited to try something new. My daughter loves tofu so I think this will be a great recipe for her. Thanks!

  2. I love, love tempeh, and over the year have grown to enjoy cooking with it more than tofu, for all the reasons you mention. I also think it absorbs flavor better than tofu. This sauce looks delicious!

  3. I love eating tempeh (especially on a skewer) but I never realized it would be so easy to make! I'm going to try this tonight :)

  4. I love tempeh too! Even more than tempeh I love seitan! Nick, you should try a seitan recipe – maybe even make your own seitan for it?!?!

  5. Oh hell yes. This sounds fantastic. We often make BBQ tempeh sandwiches with red onion, arugula, and Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing. Or a quick salad. Will be sure to try this recipe post haste.

  6. Looks awesome! I make my own tempeh and am always looking for new recipes. I give my tempeh away to friends and they always want to know what to do with it. Next time I'm giving them this recipe!

  7. I made this for supper last night. I increased the sauce ingredients and extended it with chicken broth and thickened it with cornstarch. I served the tempeh over sauteed bok choy and sticky rice. It was a hit. Thanks!

  8. Hi Nick,
    I am not crazy about tempeh, but this recipe rocks! Thank you.
    I fixed it for my family and they were in heaven. I am looking forward to see more of your vegan recipes.

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