What Is Tempeh



Tempeh refers to a slab of soybeans bound together by a white fungus known as rhizopus oligosporus. It’s a fermented product that increases the bioavailability of the nutrients found in soybeans. It has been consumed for centuries as a rich source of protein.

Tempeh originates from Central Java in Indonesia. It is the only soybean product that didn’t emerge out of East Asia. Its earliest record in writing is found in the Serat Centhini, a tome written in 1814 which describes the Javanese way of life. According to this classic, tempeh was eaten from as far back as the 1600s.

How Is Tempeh Different From Tofu Or Seitan?

Tempeh is less processed, packed with probiotics and significantly more nutritious!

Tempeh is made from whole soybeans, whereas tofu is made from the coagulation of soybean milk and a binding agent (such as gypsum). By consuming tempeh you are gaining health benefits from the whole bean, such as dietary fiber. 

Tempeh is fermented: the fermentation process not only deactivates the anti-nutrients in soybeans that cause gas as indigestion (oligosaccharides), but also adds B complex vitamins. As a result tempeh is more readily digestible and nutritious compared to tofu.

Tempeh is a better meat substitute in most dishes compared to tofu. Tempeh has a firmer, more chewy, “meatier” texture, unlike tofu which has a high water content. The fermentation and enzymatic breakdown of proteins in tempeh creates greater umami, or savoury, compounds that are not found in tofu.

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat. It is not a soy product, not fermented, and also not suitable for those with celiac or people who wish to avoid gluten.