Vietnamese Tempeh Steaks


I was urged by my friend for an easy-peasy dish, but healthy,  delectable and surprising. This is my response: Indonesian Tempeh with Vietnamese sauce & garnish, served in the American “steak” style.

Tofu is to curd what tempeh is to cheese. Tempeh is fermented soy and is a superfood,  as professed by health gurus.  One of  health and nutrition results of 2017 was that including hot peppers in the diet is a good thing; so I could not resist the temptation of adding jalapeno peppers to the garnish. I used Vietnamese fish sauce; so strictly speaking it is not vegetarian– although its role in the dish is to provide a depth of savory flavor and those of you familiar with this ingredient have realized that it is not fishy at all. You can omit this, if you are not comfortable with its usage.

You may notice that there is no oil in the recipe:  I adapt this characteristic from southeast Asian techniques, which I find particularly interesting.

Here the tempeh steams in the sauce and turns into glaze, due to the sugar, when done.   Mise en place-ed, the dish is ready in 10 minutes!


Makes 2 portions

  • 16 oz tempeh (two packets of 8 oz each)
  • S1:  4 tbsps brown sugar + 2 tbsp fish sauce + 2 tbsp soy sauce + dash of Sriracha or red chilli powder + 1 tsp grated fresh ginger + 2 tbsps of lemon juice  + 3-4 tbsp white wine or sake
  • S2:  1 green jalapeno thinly sliced + 1 tsp lemon juice + zest of  half a lemon + handful cilantro leaves


Cut the tempeh into 6 small “steak” pieces.  Place all the S1 ingredients in an iron skillet and mix.  Lay the 6 tempeh pieces.  Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to gentle simmer and  cover. After 4 minutes,  turn each piece cook for another 4 minutes covered.  If the sauce has dried up, then add some more wine or water.  Be careful not to burn it since  the sauce contains sugar.

Mix the S2 ingredients for garnishing. Serve tempeh warm or cold, topped with garnish.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. You can use a non-stick pan instead of the iron skillet.
  2. I have used brown sugar, but you could replace this with palm sugar if you can lay your hands on it.

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