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How Do I Choose the Best Tempeh Marinade?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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Tempeh, which is a bean cake made from fermented soybeans, can be an acquired taste for some. Others gravitate toward tempeh’s natural chewy texture and mushroomy, earthy flavor. For either type of diner, a good tempeh marinade can bring a dish to life. A wide range of marinades, from sultry and smoky to bright and peppery, can transform a plain piece of tempeh into company dinner.

Many tempeh fans insist it’s best cut thin and fried in a pan in a bit of oil. Others like it lightly steamed before frying to remove a subtly bitter flavor that not everyone detects. Other cooking methods include baking, broiling, and grilling. In all cases, allowing the tempeh to hang out with liquids such as fruit juice, coconut milk, soy sauce, and a host of flavor enhancers from garlic to ginger or curry to peanut butter in a tempeh marinade is a good place to start. Of course, adding fresh or dried herbs gives plain tempeh the gumption to get up and dance.

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A tasty tempeh marinade that many cooks turn to during the week because it is utterly simple and simply delicious includes a little soy sauce, some minced garlic, and a splash of vinegar. Adding a few drops of sesame oil gives the chewy meat substitute an Asian flavor. Some cooks like to make a little extra marinade to set aside and mix in some tahini or ground sesame seeds for a nutty sauce. This marinade can also handle a few drops of hot sauce, for those so inclined, and some minced or thinly sliced ginger as well.

Caribbean dishes are easy with a tempeh marinade that incorporates coconut milk. Minced garlic and ginger and some fruity juice or fruit pulp bring this marinade to the front of the class. A squeeze of lime is de rigueur, of course, and dry curry powder or jarred lime or mango pickle ratchets up the flavor. This marinade also loves cilantro, and again, hot sauce is more than welcome for those who can handle it.

One way to convince kids that tempeh is not only good for you but yummy in the tummy is by sweetening it up. A marinade composed of maple syrup and ginger sets the foundation. Garlic is the go-to flavor enhancer for this one, as long as the kids don’t object. A few shakes of soy sauce grounds the flavors, and a spoon or two of peanut butter will turn most young ones into tempeh converts.

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