Heart healthy: Fermented soy foods namely, tempeh, have more bioactive peptides (breakdown proteins) than non-fermented soy foods and are broken down by molds, yeasts and bacteria into peptide fragments that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood pressure-lowering properties.
Intake of soy foods (especially whole soy foods like tempeh) has been known to improveone’s levels of blood fats with a moderate lowering of LDL cholesterol. Studies indicate other positive impacts on blood fats, like the lowering of triglycerides and total cholesterol or the raising of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).
Cancer prevention: the benefits of soy bean consumption is an area of health research that offers promise especially whole soy foods like tempeh in a cancer-preventing diet. Genistein (an isoflavone phytonutrient in soy) is typically what interests researchers in cancer-prevention studies as it increases activity of a tumor suppressor protein called p53. When p53 becomes active it aids in lowering cancer deaths and it also helps stop ongoing cancer cell activity.
In the case of breast and prostate cancer genistein is found in higher concentrations in fermented soy foods like tempeh compared to non-fermented soy foods like soy milk, isolate soy protein, concentrated soy protein and non-fermented tofu.
Other areas of potential health benefits from tempeh are the treatment of obesity. Since fermented soy foods like tempeh have increased concentrations of bioactive peptides (versus non-fermented soy foods), tempeh may turn out to be a premier form of soy when considering obesity management.
High levels of total soy intake (approximately 200 grams per day) have also been associated with decreased risk of type-two diabetes, but only in Asian populations thus far.
Other areas of active research on soy and health include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), periodontal disease, and neurodegenerative disease. While we have yet to see studies on tempeh in these areas, we expect to learn more about potential benefits.
Tempeh is a fermented soy food that originated in Java although widely available throughout Indonesia including right here in Bali. Tempeh is fermented with the mold Rhizopusoligosporus a fermentation process that involves a period of several days or longer usually carried out at temperatures of 85-90°F/29-32°C.
Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced in a way that is similar to tofu. Tempeh usually has a less watery texture than regular tofu, and in comparison to non-fermented tofu, a more recognized flavor. Various preparation methods include steaming, baking, and frying and commonly incorporated into Indonesian stews and soups.
A Western Spin:
Curried Tempeh Grilled Cheese with Mango Chutney
Makes 2 sandwiches
For curried tempeh
Half an 8 oz package of tempeh
¼-½ teaspoon curry powder*
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon oil
For the sandwich
4 slices of sourdough bread
1 tablespoon, or to taste, sweet mango chutney. Substitute with apricot preserve
4 slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese
Handful of fresh arugula or baby spinach leaves or kale leaves, torn
1 teaspoon butter
*Curry powders vary greatly in their potency and spiciness, so season according to taste.
For the curried tempeh
1.Slice the tempeh length wise into ¼ inch thin pieces. You will need 6-8 slices, about 4 oz
2.Whisk together the curry powder, soy sauce and water in a bowl. Add tempeh to the bowl and gently toss so the marinade is coated well on the tempeh.
3.Cover and marinate the tempeh in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
4. Heat oil in a medium skillet and add the marinated tempeh. Also add any remaining marinating liquid. Cook on medium heat, flipping the tempeh occasionally, until all the liquid has boiled away and the tempeh is brown on both sides.
Now proceed with making the grilled cheese.
Shortcut curried tempeh: If you are in a hurry, skip the marinating and cooking of the tempeh. Leave out the water and oil. Simply toss tempeh in soy sauce and curry powder and continue with the recipe below.
For the grilled cheese
1.Use a small cast iron skillet or a garden brick as the weight for the grilled cheese. Cover the cast iron skillet or bricks with aluminum foil
2. Take 2 slices of bread and slather about 1/2 teaspoon (or more) mango chutney on both the bread slices
3. Place one slice of cheese on top of the mango chutney. Top it with 3-4 slices of curried tempeh and 6-8 leaves of arugula or baby spinach or kale
4. Cover with another slice of cheese, and the other slice of bread, chutney side down
5. Heat ¼ teaspoon butter in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Place the sandwich on the skillet
6. Put the foil-covered weight (cast iron skillet or brick) on top of the sandwich. Make sure it is balanced sitting on the sandwich. Let the sandwich with the weight on top cook on medium heat till the bottom side is golden, about 2 minutes
7. Then remove the grilled cheese sandwich using a wide spatula, add ¼ teaspoon more butter to the pan. Flip the sandwich over and cook the other side, with the weight on top, till it is golden.
Recipe source: Huffington Post