Thursday, 9 September 2010

Tempeh? What's that?

Fresh tempeh (image © Sakurai Midori)
Tempeh is wonderful, but elusive stuff. We used to buy it frozen from the Holland & Barrett health food stores, but they've stopped stocking it. It seems like the only commercial UK supplier is Impulse Foods, and there are a few sites selling their frozen tempeh, such as Goodness Direct.

But what is it? It is actually very simple, consisting of fermented, cooked soybeans (the site has everything you need to know) formed into a firm cake that can be sliced and fried, or mixed with other dishes. It's popular with vegetarians as an alternative to bacon or even hamburgers. We love it, but sadly haven't bought any for ages, so we were looking round the web thinking of ordering some (you can it get in  London's Chinatown or Wembley Sunday Market fairly easily, but we haven't been to town for a while). Our friendly local Chinese store doesn't have any, but they're looking into it.

Sliced raw tempeh (image © FotoosVanRobin)
Then Mr K suggested trying to make it ourselves - by all accounts it's a simple process, and you can get a free sample of the starter culture from The main barrier is the incubator, as the tempeh needs to be kept at around 30°C for a couple of days. One blog suggested you can use an oven with just the light on, so we're experimenting at the moment to see how warm that gets. Mrs K isn't totally convinced, but she's happy to give it a go. Of course, then comes the problem of finding de-hulled soybeans - apparently de-hulling them yourself is a bit tedious.

If we go ahead, we'll let you know how we get on, but we're determined to get some tempeh soon one way or another because it's so delicious and very versatile for cooking.

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