Enjoy a delicious meal with this sticky tempeh as the star of the show! This easy recipe transforms plain tempeh into a dish that's irresistible and full of flavour with a salty, sweet, and sticky glaze. Ready in just 20 minutes.
Table of Contents
We're trying to eat more tempeh, as it's a great source of plant-based proteins. It's also a good vegan source of calcium and other nutrients.
Tempeh is an Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. We took inspiration from the traditional dish Tempe Goreng and our much-loved Sticky Lemon Tofu recipe to make this sticky tempeh recipe.
And now this dish is our favourite way to eat tempeh! The sticky glaze is sweet and salty, full of umami and aromatic flavours. A sprinkle of scallions and toasted sesame adds a perfect finishing touch.
If there is a dish that makes you eat more tempeh, this one certainly will!
Here's what you'll need to make this yummy tempeh recipe:
Tempeh: You can often find tempeh in the chilled area of the supermarket, near the tofu. Asian grocery stores are also excellent places to find tempeh.
Sugar: We usually use brown sugar. Coconut sugar or even maple syrup could also be used.
Step by step pictures
Here's a visual guide on how to make this delicious tempeh recipe. For the full, adjustable and printable recipe, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
Step 1 - Cut the tempeh into slices or half slices about ¼ inch (6mm) inch thick and toss them in the cornstarch to coat evenly.
Step 2 - Fry tempeh in vegetable oil for 2 - 3 minutes on each side until brown and a little crispy. Season with freshly ground black pepper halfway through. Remove tempeh from the pan and set aside.
Step 3 - In some more vegetable oil, fry red pepper flakes, crushed coriander seeds, minced garlic, and grated ginger on medium heat for 1 minute.
Step 4 - Combine soy sauce with water and lemon juice and add to the pan along with the brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook while stirring to melt the sugar.
Step 5 - Add the cornflour slurry while stirring, and simmer until the sauce thickens.
Step 6 - Place the fried tempeh back in the pan and coat it in the sticky sauce.
Step 7 - For serving, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.
Substitutions and variations
Instead of lemon, you can also use lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
Soy-free: If you can't have soy products, then there are some great varieties of tempeh out there made from alternatives such as black beans or chickpeas. Use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce and adjust to taste.
Gluten-free: Use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce.
Air fryer: As an alternative to frying the tempeh, you can coat the tempeh in 2 teaspoons of oil and then air fry at 375℉ or 190℃ for about 10 -12 minutes until crisp.
This tempeh goes deliciously well with so many things.
Rice or noodles make the perfect base. We love our Vegan Egg Fried Rice with it!
We also like to serve it with stir-fried, steamed or raw veggies such as:
- Sauteed cabbage or kale
- Lightly steamed broccoli or broccolini
- Mangetout or sugar snap peas
- Quick pickled cucumber
- Strips of raw red bells peppers or carrots
In the summer, this tempeh also makes a delicious topping for salad and grain bowls.
As a garnish, toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions / spring onions are a delicious finishing touch!
This tempeh is best enjoyed freshly cooked.
If you do have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge and reheat them thoroughly in the microwave or with a splash of extra liquid in a pan.
Tempeh has a distinct flavour, with nutty, mushroomy and sometimes bitter notes. Some brands have a stronger taste than others.
Grey or black spots and patches on tempeh are a natural part of the fermentation process. If you think your tempeh might have gone off, signs include a bad smell, furry mould, or a slimy, mushy or crumbly texture.
For the tempeh
- 1 block (227g / 8oz) tempeh
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch for coating
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil more as needed
- black pepper ground
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes / chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed in mortar and pestle
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons (38 g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 scallions / spring onions for garnish
Fry the tempeh
- Cut the tempeh into slices or half slices about ¼ inch (6mm) inch thick and toss them in the cornstarch to coat evenly.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry tempeh until brown and a little crispy, 2 - 3 minutes on each side. Season with some freshly ground black pepper about halfway through.Add more vegetable oil if necessary.
- Remove the fried tempeh from the pan and set aside. Let the pan cool down a bit to avoid overcooking the aromatics.
Make the sauce
- Add an extra tablespoon oil to the frying pan over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes, crushed coriander seeds, minced garlic and grated ginger. Stir and fry for 1 minute.
- Make a cornstarch slurry by stirring together the cornstarch for the sauce with an equal amount of water.
- Combine soy sauce, water, and lemon juice. Add the liquids to the pan along with the brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir regularly until the sugar melts.
- Add the cornstarch slurry while stirring, and simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Place the fried tempeh back in the pan and coat it in the sticky sauce.
- Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sliced scallions, with a side of veggies and rice.
This information is calculated per serving and is an estimate only.