Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teriyaki Tempeh

This was really an exciting creation we had last night. I had been wanting to try making teriyaki seitan for a few weeks now, but all of a sudden in a moment if clarity I realized that tempeh would be a very premium teriyaki vessel. 

And it was. I decided to use the technique commonly used for making hot wings (where the chicken is dredged in flour, fried, and THEN tossed in the hot sauce. Frying the tempeh gives it a crispy outside and of course tender inside, and the teriyaki sauce is a perfect complement. 

This is a super basic recipe with only a few ingredients, but because Saturday night cooking around here looks more like "My Drunk Kitchen" I didn't record any amounts. This will be a lesson in free-form cooking, and most quantities are estimated, so you may need to add more or less depending. 

The one thing that is for sure is that one pound of tempeh will feed four people- that would be two standard 8oz packages (16 ounces total). Also, many recipes call for tempeh to be boiled or steamed prior to using. Do NOT do this for this recipe. If you do, the tempeh will crumble and fall apart, rather than stay as a coherent, bite-sized morsel. The tempeh will be plenty cooked because of the small morsel size and the process of frying. 

Finally, coating the tempeh in cornstarch may sound bizarre, and I don't remember where I picked it up, but I once used a recipe for fried tofu that had been coated in cornstarch rather than flour, and it was amazing.  It's my go-to dredger now. Plus for those of you to whom it matters, it makes the recipe gluten-free. :) Just be sure to find some gluten-free soy and teriyaki sauce! 

Teriyaki Tempeh
serves 4

2 8oz packages tempeh, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 -3/4 cup cornstarch
peanut oil
1 bottle teriyaki sauce (I used Whole Foods' 365 Organic Teriyaki Sauce, $2.99, and it was delicious, with more ginger flavor- if you're into that sort of thing)
3 cups cooked rice 
1-2 red peppers, sliced julienne
1 bunch scallions chopped
4 large carrots, sliced widthwise (if you're wondering why my carrots look weird it's because I used purple carrots from the farm I work at)
Sesame seeds 

Heat peanut oil in a large, flat pan over medium high heat. Be sure that you use enough oil to thoroughly cover the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile toss the tempeh in the soy sauce until coated, then dredge in cornstarch. Toss well to make sure that every cube is evenly coated. 

Once oil is ready, toss in the tempeh. The key is to resist the urge to stir frequently. Once the tempeh has browned, it releases from the pan surface more readily (because we have a little bird in the house who could be poisoned by Teflon emissions, we don't use nonstick cookware. If this is not a problem in your house, using non-stick cookware will make this much easier). Turn tempeh every 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from pan, and toss with teriyaki sauce. I would advise starting with 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, then add little by little until the tempeh is coated, not drenched (no soggy tempeh after working so hard to get crispy tempeh!) Set aside for just a few minutes.

While the pan is still hot, add the peppers, scallions, and carrots. Saute until softened but still slightly crispy, just a few minutes at most. 

Serve tempeh and veggies over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and make liberal use of the remaining teriyaki sauce. 



  1. Because there's so much misinformation out there about the Teflon® brand, I'm not surprised that you are concerned. I'm a representative of DuPont though, and hope you'll let me share some information with you and your readers, so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

    Because birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, bird owners must take precautions to protect them. Cooking fumes, smoke and odors that have little or no effect on people can seriously sicken and even kill birds, often quite quickly. Cooking fumes from any type of unattended or overheated cookware, not just non-stick, can damage a bird's lungs with alarming speed. This is why bird owners should take steps to protect their pets, such as keeping their birds out of the kitchen, never leaving cookware unattended, never allowing pots and pans to overheat, and making sure that their kitchen is properly ventilated at all times.

    It should be noted that butter, fats, and cooking oils will begin to smoke at approximately 400°F (204°C), producing fumes that can irritate eyes, nose, and throat and possibly cause respiratory distress. DuPont non-stick coatings will not begin to deteriorate in appearance or performance until the temperature of the cookware reaches about 500°F

    Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at the Teflon® brand. This article highlights what they found -- the bottom line is that you can use Teflon® non-stick without worry.

    1. Although.... It seems that your assertion that the conclusions of regulatory agencies can be summed up by your attached "article" is inaccurate. A quick search brings up the fact that the EPA initiated a program in 2006 inviting major PFOA producers to reduce PFOA emissions from manufacturing facilities by 95% by 2010, and to eliminate PFOAs from emissions AND products by 2015. Du Pont appears to be participating in this voluntary program.

      If you have primary and independent literature on the issue I would love to see it; however, it would be silly of me to blindly accept your link as proof of the safety of PFOAs. It is an apocryphal source at best that is labeled "The Plastics Industry Trade Association" on the bottom left-hand corner. While my literature search generally supported the supposition that PFOA health effects are "inconclusive," ( it would behoove your cause to site independent research, rather than watered-down industry "propaganda." If your claim is as bullet-proof as you say it is, this should be an easy task.

  2. The veggies in this recipe were delicious but the tempeh did not turn out well for me. This was my first time cooking with tempeh, however, so that may have been due to lack of experience on my part.

    1. Hmm... I'm sorry about that! What exactly seemed off about the tempeh? I could troubleshoot with you if you want! :)

  3. You should try blanching the tempeh! Tempeh opens up a bit and soaks up sauces very nicely if you blanch it. It will definitely fall apart if you boil it for too long, though. :)

    1. Blanching is certainly an option if the taste of the tempeh is too strong. In my experience, though, it seems that if the tempeh is cut into small enough pieces before being cooked that blanching doesn't seem to be necessary. Since this was intended to be fried rather than marinated I decided to forego blanching. But, like anything, it's a matter of taste! :) Let me know how it comes out if you try blanching it before frying it!