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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Yummy. Tempeh. Sushi. Vegan!

tempeh sushi

At the Lovlie Cocoon we are big fans of sushi, vegan of course! Before we discovered how tasty tempeh sushi could be, I used to make it using pan fried tofu.
But tempeh sushi rocks so much more!

What is tempeh? If you are unfamiliar with it, tempeh is made from soy beans. I am not a great fans of soy products in general and we try to limit our consumption of soy. However, what makes tempeh a preferred soy product is the fermentation process that it goes through. This makes it much easier for the body to digest the soy beans.

Tempeh originates from Indonesia where it has been a staple source of protein for several hundred years already. Like I was saying before it is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybean particles into a cake form. The process involves cleaning, cracking, dehulling, cooking, then inoculating with a starter culture, and finally incubating. During incubation the important phase of fermentation occurs. Tempeh owes much of its flavour, texture and nutritional properties to the process of fermentation.

The starter culture (rhizopus oligosporus), a friendly culture, is a filamentous form fungi. As the culture spores germinate they bind the soybeans together into compact white cakes. The chunky cake of beans has a mild, nutty flavour with a firm yet tender, meaty or chewy texture.

tempeh sushi

Tempeh can be used in many recipes. I've used it in curries, stir fries, sandwiches but my favourite way of eating it is in sushi preparation.

Sushi is actually relatively easy to make. You may need a little practice with the rolling part but if you have a sushi mat, it is not that much of a challenge.

For the sushi rice:
Ingredients (for 4 nori rolls)

250 g sushi rice
40 ml mirin (or rice vinegar)
1 1/2 tablespoon demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1 courgette
1 avocado
250g tempeh block
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for pan frying

Prepare the rice:
  • Wash rice until water runs clear (or almost).
  • Place in a deep pan and add water. Place your finger in the water so that it is only touching the rice, the water level should be at the first knuckle. (This is the correct amount of water to use) Boil the sushi rice until cooked but not mushy. (All water should be absorbed).
  • While rice is boiling you can prepare the seasoning. Add sugar and salt to the miring and warm on a gentle heat until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Spread rice on a large plate, pour on the mirin while mixing with a spatula. As you are mixing the (still hot) rice with the mirin, fan it to cool it down. Fan and fold in the mirin. Keep doing this process until all is well mixed and rice has completely cooled.

Prepare the filling ingredients: (you can do this while the rice is boiling).
  • Cut the tempeh in long strips (defrost tempeh beforehand if using frozen). Marinade in the soy sauce and lightly pan fry with 1 - 2 tablespoons oil. They will be done relative quickly, once they get a golden coating.
  • Cut the courgette in julienne.
  • Cut avocado in half, remove the stone, then peel them. Cut into long strips. (Avocados should be more on the creamy texture than firm, so use ripe ones preferably).

Make the rolls:
  • Lay the sushi mat on a chopping board. Place a sheet of nori.
  • Cover with a layer of rice.
  • Lay the courgette, avocado and tempeh strips in a line on the side closer to you.
  • Roll using the mat, make sure you tuck in the ingredients properly with the first turn.
  • Dab the other end of the nori with a little water (so that it will stick and close well), then roll completely.
  • Unroll the mat, cut through the nori roll with a sharp knife. (It helps to get a cleaner cut if you wash the knife after cutting each roll).

tempeh sushi

Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.

tempeh sushi


  1. I never had tempeh in sushi. I bet it sounds great.

    P.S. I am totally in love with making paper beads now. Thank you again for your tutorial. You got me quite addicted :)

  2. Thanks Mihl. I'm glad you've liked the tutorial! Yeah, you know all the junk pamphlets I receive in the mail now become beads, how cool is that!

  3. What about soy do you disagree with - just curious not judging. And what do you use as a substitution? I'm vegetarian and eat a lot of soy because it's often available and I do like the taste of many things.

  4. Elizabeth, there is a lot of controversy over soy and soy products. I do consume soy nevertheless. I try to consume it more in the fermented form like tempeh and miso but I do also like tofu and from time to time vegan sausages and burgers.

    The problem with soy is that almost all soy today are GMO. I don't know how much I can trust the non-GMO and organic labels on the products I purchase...

    One thing that I've literally stopped though and I've found it to make a difference is soymilk. Even since I stopped soymilk, I've felt less bloated and my weight is just so much more manageable... I don't really have a weight problem but I tend to put on a few kilos from time to time.
    Maybe if I do stop all other soy products for a while, I might notice a difference... I'm not at this stage yet. I just moderate my consumption...


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