If there’s one reason I could pick amongst the dozens, why living in Malaysia as a vegan is dope, the answer is Tempeh. I’ve talked about tempeh in a similar light several times in interviews, and I still stand by it! It’s not only tasty and dirt cheap, it’s also extremely versatile. In Malaysia, we tend to only see it either deep fried in batter, or on its own and coated in sambal with peanuts and anchovies. There are so many other ways to experience this humble superfood. Previously I have reconstructed tempeh into fish cakes. And after many people asking me for this particular recipe for a couple of years, I’ve finally gotten round to getting the measurements together and sharing it!
The vital ingredient: LIQUID SMOKE. Whether you are a vegan or not, I could not recommend this more as part of your pantry arsenal. It is literally what it says it is: smoke in liquid form. Traditional smoked foods need hours to infuse the woody taste. Liquid smoke does the same instantly, adding extra depth to soups and sauces, burgers and bakes, meats and veggie dishes alike. You can find it at the bottled sauces section at most large supermarkets.
When you add it to tempeh… ooh child, the doors of gourmet worlds that open before you.
The fun thing about smokey tempeh is that you can have it two ways: roasted, or pan fried. Both have their pull.
Roasting intensifies the flavours and removes most of the moisture. This makes the tempeh ideal for keeping in the fridge for sandwich and salad lunches throughout the week, even up to two weeks! Fridge longevity is certainly a plus for those with busy schedules. Before roasting, I prop pieces up against each other on the baking tray so that they cook evenly, but you can also just lay them flat and stir them around with a spoon or thin ladle every 7-8 minutes.
Pan frying creates a stickier, juicier tempeh. I love having it as a side dish with rice or noodles. You can still keep leftovers in the fridge for a few days, and you’ll just need to re-fry it when it’s ready to be eaten again.
Either way you take it, Smokey Tempeh is easy to prepare and needs minimal ingredients. I’ve stripped down my recipe so that the ingredients are accessible to most Malaysians. But if you want to take it to town, feel free to add paprika powder, nutritional yeast, chili powder, and/or your own mix of herbs (add them after cooking if you choose the frying option).
Once you start making this, you’ll wonder how you never ate Tempeh this way before. Enjoy exploring!
A plant-based alternative to bacon in your BLT sandwich or a great way to replace meats in your rice and noodle dishes, this unique way of cooking tempeh will be one of the most delicious ways of getting your daily protein. Excluding marinating time, total time is 40 minutes for roasting and 20 minutes for pan frying.
- 150 g Tempeh
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweetener of choice (agave, date syrup, maple syrup, coconut nectar, Korean rice syrup or the non-vegan option of honey)
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (if pan frying)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp mixed herbs (optional)
- A pinch of chili powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp cooking oil (optional)
- Step 1 Slice tempeh thinly into pieces 0.5-1cm wide.
- Step 2 Stir all other ingredients together into a plate or container with a flat base.
- Step 3 Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if you are prepping to cook the next day
- Step 4 If roasting, cook at 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes with fan function or 25-30 mins without fan function.
- Step 5 If pan frying, heat cooking oil in a pan. Place marinated tempeh in and cook for approx. 10 minutes or until golden brown, flipping the pieces constantly so both sides are evenly cooked. Alternatively, keep marinade aside after mixing it, deep-fry tempeh on its own until golden brown, turn off heat then stir in marinade until tempeh is evenly coated.