By Glenn Lozuke, Weaver Street Market Food House Head Chef
I was in search of a high end protein to offer on our salad bar. Then, it came to me… tempeh! But I didn’t fully understand tempeh as an ingredient, let alone embrace it. I had to do a little research.
Almost by mistake, this soy “wonder” was created in Indonesia hundreds of years ago, if not longer. Tempeh is made of whole soy beans. What makes this product so special is that fermentation plays a key role in its flavor and texture. Not to bore you with the specifics of the science, but I became intrigued with a food that’s been around for so long.
After doing some research, I discovered that tempeh all by itself is the epitome of healthy proteins, stacking in at over 20 grams of protein for 3.5 ounces of tempeh, compared to tofu which has only 8 grams for the same weight. Tempeh is also chock full of healthy fats, and contains vitamins and minerals (like calcium) as well as prebiotics—types of fiber that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. It is low in sodium and carbs.
What was the Weaver Street tempeh recipe going to be? As I studied recipes on the internet and discussed multiple ideas with many of my fellow tempeh advocates, I realized that I needed to create something that would appeal to the masses. I wanted the savory umami-ness of soy sauce and the nuttiness of peanuts, but without using peanuts or tree nuts.
Given that starting point, I used gluten-free tamari and sunflower butter as my two “flavor bases.” I added sesame oil, lime juice, and maple syrup to round out the base flavors. I created an overnight marinade for the tempeh. After marinating, the tempeh would be roasted to deepen the flavor profile.
The new Tamari Sunflower Tempeh is now on the salad bar in our stores. It’s both gluten-free and vegan friendly. Build a protein-rich salad with greens, seeds, and roasted vegetables, all topped with tempeh and your favorite dressing, for a healthy lunch or dinner.