It’s been a while since I’ve shared a tempeh recipe, perhaps because whenever I have tempeh in my kitchen, the temptation to always turn it into tempeh bacon is too high (using the marinade from my tofu bacon recipe in case you wanted to try that out too). On this occasion however, as I had a tub of Korean doenjang paste leftover from a stew I’d made, I decided to experiment a little and create these Korean Tempeh Steaks.
Doenjang (된장 – roughly pronounced ‘dwen-jang’) is a thick, chunky paste made from fermented soy beans. So you may be wondering at this point, isn’t tempeh also made from fermented soy beans!? Well, yes they both are! That’s where the comparison ends though: where tempeh is all about the texture, doenjang is all about the flavour.
The fermentation process lends the paste a rich umami flavour, with a hint of sourness and a hint of sweetness. In Korean food, doenjang paste is frequently used in soups and stews, such as doengjang jjigae (a stew with tofu and one of my favourite meals when I lived in Korea), as well as in the bbq accompaniment ssam jang. Added to the marinade here, it gives the tempeh steaks a deep savouriness you rarely find in plant-based cooking.
Doenjang paste should be easy enough to find in any East Asian supermarket or online; however if you can’t find any then it can be replaced with miso paste. Whilst doenjang and miso aren’t exactly interchangeable – doenjang is chunkier, with pieces of soy bean remaining in tact and has slightly more pungent flavour than its smoother counterpart – if you can’t locate doenjang then miso paste is a more than worthy substitute.
- 225g tempeh, cut into 1cm thick pieces
- 2tbsp fermented soy bean (doenjang) paste (can be subbed with miso)
- 2tbsp tomato ketchup
- ½tsp smoked paprika
- ¼tsp chilli flakes
- ¼tsp black pepper
- 1tbsp rapeseed oil
- Steam the tempeh slices for ten minutes to remove any bitterness. This can be done in a steamer or a colander placed over a shallow pan of simmering water.
- Meanwhile, mix the doenjang paste, ketchup, paprika, chilli and pepper together into a smooth paste.
- Allow the tempeh to cool slightly then coat in the marinade.
- Heat up the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Place the tempeh slices in the pan. Cook for around 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Drain on kitchen paper and serve.
The tempeh steaks are perfect served in an open sandwich (as I did here, topped with some leftover lentils and carrots from this recipe and a little chilli sauce) or with a vegetable stir fry and rice.
What’s your favourite way to cook tempeh?