• March 12, 2021

What is the Difference Between Tofu and Tempeh?

Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE tofu, it is versatile and is all kinds of yummy. But we do feel our dear pal Tempeh is a little underappreciated and misunderstood. 

So what is tempeh and how is it different to tofu?  

Both tofu and tempeh are made from the humble soy bean. The amazing little bean does great things. At The Tofoo Co all of our soy beans are 100% organic and GM free and will ALWAYS be sourced sustainably. This is for both our tofu and tempeh products.  

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is like tofu that’s been hitting the gym – hard. Like tofu, tempeh is still made from soy but the whole bean is used in a fermentation process. Using the whole bean gives tempeh it’s chunkier texture which holds its shape better, making it ideal for crispy cubes or ‘bacon’ rashers. The fermentation process gives it a slight nutty, earthy taste compared to the more neutral tasting, softer tofu and makes it great for gut health! 

The whole method of making tempeh is much slower than tofu- as after the initial bean soak the actual fermentation can take up to a couple of days. Tofu’s much speedier to make, it’s made from coagulated soy milk and then pressed into blocks. Once the initial bean soak is completed tofu can be ready to rumble in a matter of hours. 

Both tempeh and tofu are highly nutritious and an AMAZING addition to any meal. Tempeh has a higher protein content than tofu (over 40g of protein per pack!) and is higher in fibre (since the whole bean is used). Whereas tofu is slightly lower in calories and fat.  

Can you cook tempeh the same way as tofu?  

Tofu and tempeh are both super versatile ingredients and will work very similar way (just expect tempeh to have that firmer bite!). Tempeh can be fried, baked, sliced added to curries, stir fry’s and more. There’s no limit to the amount of flavour that can be packed in through processes such as marinating.  

Tofu is softer so can be blended and scrambled as an alternative to egg, for example. Whereas Tempeh crumbled would be more of an alternative to mince. As the firmer consistency means it is more likely to retain its shape and texture in stews and sauces. Think tempeh tacos, tempeh chilli. Tempeh also can be made into some top-notch tempeh bacon. *drooling* 

While we don’t like to compare ourselves to meat, tempeh has been described as a closer alternative than tofu because of its taste and texture. So is a great starting point if you’re dipping your toes into meat-free.  

Here are 3 of our favourite quick and easy meals using tempeh that are the perfect way to kick start your tempeh journey if you are a novice, or inspire new creations if you are a seasoned tempeh user.   

Tempeh Butty with Balsamic Tomato Ketchup 

Sweet Soy Nasi Goreng

Tempeh Ragu with Crispy Gnocchi