While tofu is still more popular and widely used, there’s another vegan protein source in town that you should get to know. It’s called tempeh – and right now it is sending the vegan cooking world into a frenzy. Both tofu and tempeh have been around since ancient times, but they are formed using very different processes.
Tofu, as you probably already know, is made from heating and curdling fresh soy milk and then adding some type of coagulant to make a spongy substance, one that is great for absorbing delicious flavors. Tempeh, on the other hand, is made by naturally fermenting cooked soybeans for several days and then molding them into a block that is similar looking (but slightly more brown and less uniform in shape) to tofu. When it comes to taste between the two, tempeh can be described as a sweeter, stronger, and even earthier taste, while tofu is a little more plain. However, both tempeh and tofu soak up other flavors just as well, so the flavor of either on its own really shouldn’t be much of an issue.
So then why are people going crazy for tempeh?
Aside from it being the new kid on the block, it’s most likely that the health benefits have something to do with tempeh’s rising popularity. Unfortunately, much of the tofu you find today in the store is highly processed, while the tempeh you’ll find is much more natural. Tempeh also has more protein and fiber than tofu which means for most people it’s a healthier addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Not to mention tempeh is high in vitamin B2 and other minerals like phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Lastly, because tempeh goes through a natural fermentation process, its proteins are easier for the human body to digest.
So, the next time your looking for a protein source for your meal, consider swapping out your tofu for tempeh instead.