Bacon. Who doesn't love bacon, the smell of it, the sound of it sizzling in the frying pan. Who doesn't like it?
Well, me. Gross.
I do, however, love the smell of anything made with maple syrup, and thinly sliced tempeh, marinated with a mixture containing maple syrup? Yum! I've tried the fake bacons (facon) out there, but honestly, I much prefer to fry up some tempeh bacon if I want something smoky and maple-y in a dish.
Better Than a BLT
Tempeh bacon (recipe follows), diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste
3 green onions, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Mix everything together. Spread some Vegenaise on two slices of bread, toasted or untoasted, your choice. Add the vegetable/tempeh mixture, top with some romaine lettuce, enjoy! This is better fresh than the next day, so eat up!
One package of tempeh (I use Lightlife Organic Tempeh)
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 t. liquid smoke
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. cracked black pepper
More olive oil
Slice the tempeh as thin as you can slice it without it falling apart. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish and soak tempeh in marinade for 1-2 minutes.
Turn saute pan on high, add some olive oil. Lay the tempeh flat on skillet, in a single layer. Allow to cook until nicely brown on one side, about a minute, then flip. Allow to cook for another minute on other side-or until both sides are crisp and browned. Lay cooked tempeh on paper towels to drain and cool. Sprinkle with black pepper and thick sea salt to taste.
Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia, almost certainly in Central or East Java. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy-foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in China or Japan.
In the West tempeh is usually sold in cakes 6 by 8 by 3/4 inch thick. These are sliced then served fried, baked, or steamed. When fried, tempeh's flavor and texture are meaty, resembling those of southern fried chicken or fish sticks. Before cooking, soy tempeh contains 19.5% protein, compared with 17.9% for hamburger and 21% for chicken, on average.
Tempeh is a wonderful, high protein, southeastern Asian treat. Not only does this collaged cake of fermented soybeans have a distinctive nutty taste but its nougatlike texture readily absorbs the different flavorings with which it is cooked.
Tempeh processing could be the oldest food technology in the history of Javanese people. The people of Java, without formal training in microbiology or chemistry, developed a remarkable family of fermented foods called tempeh. Serat Centhini/Centini, a book published in the 16th century, indicates that tempeh had been produced and consumed by the time of its publication. Tempeh might have been introduced by the Chinese who are making a similar product, soybean koji, which are dehulled soybeans fermented with Aspergillus molds. The use of Rhizopus as tempeh starter in Indonesia may have been due to its better adaptation to the Indonesian climate. The earliest reference to tempeh by a European appeared in 1875 in a Javanese-Dutch dictionary. In Indonesia, traditionally and in dictionaries since at least 1875, the name for this food was written témpé , with various accents being used, especially to indicate the ay pronunciation of the final letter "e." Soy tempeh was called témpé kedelé . In August 1972, when Indonesia modernized its language as part of an Indonesian-Malaysian effort to make the two similar languages even more similar, the accents were dropped and the word came to be spelled tempe (still pronounced TEM-pay).
The rise of tempeh's popularity in Java and its spread to other parts of Indonesia and other countries of the world began in the 20th century. In the 1970s the banana leaf as container for the production of tempeh was replaced by the use of plastic bags.
In Europe, tempeh is known through the Dutch who once colonized Indonesia. In 1895 the Dutch microbiologist and chemist Prinsen Geerlings made the first attempt to identify the tempeh mold. The first tempeh companies in Europe were started in the Netherlands by immigrants from Indonesia. The first English written article appeared in 1931 the book "Vegetables of the Dutch East Indies ", written by J.J. Ochse. The earliest popular article about tempeh was a 7 page story published in France 1982 in Le Compas.
In the USA, tempeh has been known only since 1946 with the publication of "Possible Sources of Proteins for Child Feeding in Underdeveloped Countries", in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the 1960s there was new interest in tempeh with research in tempeh at the Cornell University (New York) and at the USDA Northern Regional Research Center (Illinois). In 1961 Mary Otten was the first to begin making tempeh.
Great deal of the credit for introducing tempeh to the American public goes to The Farm, a large spiritual and farming community in Summertown (Tennessee).
The first commercial tempeh shop was started in 1975 by Mr. Gale Randall in Undadilla, Nebraska. An article by R. Rodale in "Prevention" in June 1977 brought him and his shop national prominence.
In the 1980s when the tempeh industry expanded, the media showed new interest and a lot of articles appeared in scientific journals. During 1983 about 1 million commercial tempeh was produced.
If you want a more detailed history of tempeh, and it is rather quite long, I discovered, you can read more in History of Tempeh: A Fermented Soyfood from Indonesia.
Soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. Just 4 ounces of tempeh provides 41.3% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein for less than 225 calories and only 3.7 grams of saturated fat. Plus, the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them, since they also include saturated fat and cholesterol. In addition to healthy protein, some of tempeh's nutritional high points include:
Riboflavin: 4 ounces of tempeh provides 23.5% of the DV for this B-vitamin. A nutrient essential for the transfer reactions that occur to produce energy in the mitochondria, riboflavin is also a cofactor in the regeneration of one of the liver's most important detoxification enzymes, glutathione.
Magnesium: Tempeh also provides 21.9% of the DV for Nature's blood vessel relaxant, magnesium, in just 4 ounces. In addition to its beneficial role in the cardiovascular system, magnesium plays an essential role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, including those that control protein synthesis and energy production.
Manganese and Copper: That same 4 ounces of tempeh will give you 72.5% of the DV for manganese and 30.5% of the DV for copper. These two trace minerals serve numerous physiological functions including being cofactors for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
In addition, soy foods like tempeh are rich in dietary fiber. When eaten, the fiber in tempeh binds to fats and cholesterol in food, so less is absorbed. In addition, tempeh's fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. Since the liver gets rid of cholesterol by transforming it into bile salts, their removal by fiber forces the liver to use more cholesterol to form more bile salts, leading to lower cholesterol levels overall. The fiber in tempeh also provides preventative therapy for several other conditions. Fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins and remove them from the body, so they can't damage colon cells. Tempeh, which is made from high-fiber soybeans, may therefore be able to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. As a matter of fact, in areas of the world where soy foods are eaten regularly, rates of colon cancer, as well as some other cancers, including breast cancer, tend to be low.
If you have never tried tempeh, this is an excellent time to do so!