Tempeh is a culinary ingredient that is made from fermented soybeans. It is best known in Europe and North America as a meat replacement product that is eaten by vegetarians and vegans. Usually found in fridges and freezers of health food shops, tempeh is sometimes overlooked by consumers who tend to favour its more readily available and commercially mainstream soy-based cousin, tofu.
Tofu and tempeh may both have their origins with the humble soybean, but that’s where the similarity ends. Whereas tofu is somewhat bland in taste, with a relatively soft and spongy texture; tempeh is texturally firmer and more complex, and has a nutty, earthy flavour profile. Another plus point of tempeh is its nutritional value: it’s a great source of lean protein and fibre.
However, tempeh is so much more than just a nutritious meat substitute that is occasionally eaten by vegetarians in The West. It is a popular, vitally important staple food in Indonesia, where it originated and has been produced and eaten for over 800 years.
Doctor Tempeh is a new brand that was set up by Dr Jonathan Agranoff MD, a British doctor and nutritionist, to supply authentic Indonesian tempeh products to UK consumers. The tempeh that is used in these products is produced by tempeh making co-operatives, using non-GM soybeans sourced from Javanese farmers from the Central Java region of Indonesia.
The use of Indonesian soybeans and skilled labour ensures that all profits made go directly to communities involved with the production supply chain. This is important, especially for farmers, as their incomes have dropped due to the widespread use of cheap US subsidised soybeans that have flooded the market.
Doctor Tempeh recently launched the first product in their range. Here is a photo of their Tempeh Curry to whet your appetite…
Tempeh Curry (known locally to Indonesians as gulai) is a deliciously piquant dish. Its uniquely Indonesian flavour is derived from its sauce that is flavoured with lemon grass, kafir lime leaves, coconut, coriander, red chillies, and galangal root.
I spoke to Dr Agranoff who told me more about tempeh, and the mission and vision of the Doctor Tempeh brand. Click on the play button below to hear the interview in full.Follow @AnjulDutt