Three Easy & Fast Tempeh Recipes – No Marination Needed

Since the market near my house has cheap and fresh tempeh, it’s a staple in my diet. Tempeh is fermented whole soybeans in a block – it’s easier to digest, with higher protein and fibre than tofu. In Singapore you can get tempeh cheaply (few cents to $1+) from heartland supermarkets and wet markets usually in these forms. Note that city supermarkets are not likely to carry these.

A good, fresh slab of tempeh should NOT be sourish-smelling and you should be able to see more white than beans from outside. I prefer the type that’s wrapped in leaf and paper as that’s the traditional way to make tempeh. I find it more tender than the plastic packaged one. If you buy from a wet market, it is so fresh that it’s still warm – a sign of active fermentation. If it’s wet and cold, that’s the leftover unsold ones from yesterday – but still edible. After buying tempeh, try to use it up within a day or two as the good bacteria is still active, even in the fridge. Tempeh over ferments (turns sour or spoils) quite fast.

Usually found at: Refrigerated daily section near tofu and noodles (supermarkets) or stalls selling a mix of items like young tau foo, tofu, dried goods (at wet markets).
The fresh tempeh sold wrapped in leaves will have black spots around the edges. That’s perfectly normal and can be removed before cooking. I usually pinch or pull them off.

Tempeh can be tricky to prepare. It has a strong bean taste due to the fermentation process. It also has no moisture on its own and can turn out very dry. I always pair it with strong flavours to mask the beany taste and add a form of liquid when frying it. Here’s 3 of the easiest recipes of tempeh in my library. I prepare them as part of my weekly food prep as they are fuss-free, using ready-made sauces. These are not traditional Asian foods, just a way to put familiar flavours into a practical weekly routine.


  1. SOY SAuce and ginger tempeh

  • 150g tempeh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp quality soy sauce
  • 0.5cm thick ginger, sliced and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 0.5-1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup water or stock

Mix soy sauce in water/stock. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add ginger matchsticks and sauté till slightly browned. Add tempeh, sauté till lightly browned on both sides. Add soy sauce mixture, lower heat and simmer till liquid is gone, flipping tempeh halfway. Remove from heat and serve hot, or transfer to a container and let cool before refrigerating.

2. TOM YAM tempeh

  • 150g tempeh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp Vegetarian Tom Yam Paste (available at vegetarian grocery shops)
  • 0.5-1 tbsp oil (can use less oil if your pan is non-stick)
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • 0.5 tbsp lemon/lime juice

Mix tom yam paste in water/stock. Heat oil in a pan (non-stick preferably) over medium heat. Add tempeh and sauté till lightly browned on both sides. Add tom yam mixture, lower heat and simmer till liquid is gone, flipping tempeh halfway. Remove from heat, add lemon/lime juice and mix well. Serve hot, or transfer to a container and let cool before refrigerating.

3. GOCHUJANG tempeh

  • 150g tempeh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, available at NTUC)
  • 0.5 tbsp quality soy sauce
  • 0.5-1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • Spring onions as garnish (optional)

Mix gochujang and soy sauce in water/stock. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add tempeh and sauté till lightly browned on both sides. Add gochujang+soy sauce mixture, lower heat and simmer till liquid is gone, flipping tempeh halfway. Remove from heat and garnish (optional). Serve hot, or transfer to a container and let cool before refrigerating.


Tempeh loses moisture easily in the fridge. To reheat without much loss in moisture, I prefer steaming, pan-frying them again or topping them on hot soups. Keeps well up to 5-7 days (depending on how cold your fridge is). Can also be made in large batches and kept frozen if you wish to keep for long.

Flavour ideas can include garlic and pepper, kicap manis, sambal, chilli sauces, curry powder, sweet+sour sauces and BBQ sauces. Anything that is strong, tangy and spicy will work well. Adding a bit of sugar can balance out more savoury flavours while adding a nice glaze to retain moisture. Adding citruses can help tenderise the tempeh. If you have the time, you can marinate tempeh in the sauces or liquids overnight before cooking, for an even tastier version.

More tempeh recipes here.

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4 comments

4 comments

  1. I’m glad you’re doing lots with tempeh. It’s so inexpensive, healthy and – thanks to your recipes – tasty.

  2. May I ask which wet markets/ supermarkets can we buy tempeh? Tiong Bahru market? Anywhere near Orchard by any chance? Thanks so much!

    1. Tempeh can be bought at all wet markets and most middle class supermarkets like NTUC and Sheng Siong.

      They are usually in the chilled section of supermarkets in a plastic packet ( with tofu and noodles )and sold at wet market stalls wrapped in a paper& leaf that sell a variety of things like dried goods, sauces and yong tau foo. I’ve heard from friends that tempeh is harder to find in supermarkets of city areas which sell mostly international foods.

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