What is it?
Tempeh is an Indonesian fermented food product originally made out of soy beans and a fungus called rhizopus. During the fermentation process, the spores of the fungus develop and its mycelium grows around the soybeans, breaking down their molecules. This process changes the properties of soybeans and makes them more digestible for our body, allowing us to absorb all the proteins available, and making tempeh as high in protein as meat. The taste evokes aromas of mushroom, nut and yeast.
What do we need to make it?
Ingredients (for ~375 g of tempeh)
- 250 g soybeans
- 1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus)
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- Something to wrap the soybeans together, this can be plastic wrap, a zipper lock freezer bag or a mould
- An incubator, or a any other place that provides a constant temperature of about 30°C
How to make it?
The following process takes about 30 hours.
Remove the hulls
- Soak the soybeans in water overnight or cook for 20 minutes
- Massage them in a basin to remove the hulls
- Remove the hulls from the water (by pouring the water from the basin, the hulls will come out first)
- Repeat until there are almost no hulls left
Why remove the hulls?
The hulls of the soybeans prevent a good growth of the fungi and lead to bad tempeh.
Cook the soybeans
- In a pot of boiling water: add a tablespoon of vinegar and cook the soybeans for 25 minutes
- Drain the soybeans in a colander and rinse briefly with water
Innoculate the rhizopus
- Dry the soybeans very well (we use kitchen towels, but some use fans) and let them cool to room temperature
- Add 1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus) and mix well
Shape the tempeh
- Put the enhanced soybeans in plastic wrap, a zipper lock freezer bag or a mould
- Make sure that the soybeans are well compacted (that there is not too much space between them)
- Using a needle or a toothpick, make small holes on all sides to allow the rhizopus to breathe
Let it incubate
- Put your growing tempeh in the incubator
- Let your tempeh ferment for 24-30 hours at ~30°C
When can I see if it works?
Nothing visible happens in the first 15 hours. Then a white and cloudy feel takes over, which is a very good sign.
Tempeh is ready
Take the tempeh out of the incubator when the rhizopus has grown all around the soybean, turning it into a compact white block. Yaaay, fresh tempeh!
Fresh tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freezing is also an option to keep it longer but it is so good that we usually eat it in a few days, no need for preservation techniques in the club.