These tempeh lettuce cups are made with crispy ginger tempeh and served with tahini cream and fresh herbs
The weeks before quarantine happened we were entertaining a lot—our usual get together with friends—a bottle of wine, dinner, and a board game. Entertaining is definitely our favourite activity, but we never want to spend too much time in the kitchen, or make too many dishes. This means most of our shared meals come together quickly, with little cleanup, and serve all of our dietary needs. And these tempeh lettuce cups fit the bill.
Tempeh is one of those foods (along with jackfruit) we often serve to our omnivore friends—and one they love! The crispy gingery tempeh is meaty and satisfying, the fresh herbs and lettuce are crisp and juicy, and the tahini cream is light and silky. It's totally one of those meals that hit all the boxes!
- plain tempeh
- sambal oelek or siracha
- oil (I like avocado or olive)
- toasted sesame oil
- lemon juice
- sea salt
- veggies to serve
What I love about these tempeh lettuce cups is how fresh and fast they are to make.
First make your tahini sauce by adding everything but the water to your blender. With the blender running, slowly add the water (kind of like an emulsion) and you will end up the super fluffy and creamy sauce.
Next, you mix up your marinade and set aside.
Crumble and fry your tempeh until it begins to brown, then pour the marinade over the tempeh and reduce until it is sticky.
Tips + Notes
Tempeh is an Indonesian protein often made from soybeans, but you can also find versions made with lentils, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and wild rice—meaning it is something even non-soy eater can enjoy. Unlike its relative, tofu—which is processed—tempeh utilizes the whole bean, is fermented, contains more micro-nutrients and fibre, and is higher in fibre iron.
While you can make your own tempeh, you can easily find it at most health food stores (WholeFoods and Trader Joes), as well as small-batch locally made brands (Tempea and Green Cuisine's if you are in Vancouver), or local Asian markets.
Tempeh freezes very well, so if it is hard to find you can stock up on it and use it later 🙂
The Crumble Technique
For so many years I treated tempeh like tofu and cubed it. It wasn't until recently that I learned the beauty in crumbling tempeh. It is a simple technique but creates so many more nooks and crannies for marinades, and more edges to get nice and crispy crunchy!
- if you want a heartier meal, try serving this tempeh and sauce over rice with steamed veggies
- if you need this to be gluten-free, look for gluten-free soy sauce
- to make this soy-free look for chickpea or sunflower seed-based tempeh. Swap the soy for coconut aminos
Other Tempeh Recipes
- Harvest Bowls with Barley and Cider Glazed Tempeh
- Wild Rice Stuffing Balls
- Buddha Bowl with Miso Gravy
- 1 pack (240g) plain tempeh
- 2 ½ tbsp. tamari
- 1 tbsp. mirin
- 1 tbsp. microplane ginger
- 1 tsp. sambal oelek or siracha
- 3 tbsp. neutral oil (I like avocado)
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp. sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup water
- Butter Lettuce
- Fresh herbs (I like chive, mint, and cilantro)
- Julienned carrot
- Thinly sliced radish or daikon
- Sesame seeds
1. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients except the water in a blender. Puree until smooth then slowly add the water (like you're emulsifying). This should create and smooth and fluffy cream, which should turn lighter in colour as you add the water.
2. Next, combine the tamari, mirin, ginger and hot sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Crumble the tempeh, set aside. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy frying pan to medium. Add 2 tbsp. avocado oil and the 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Once the oil is hot add the tempeh and fry until crisp, string often. If it begins to stick add the remaining tbsp. oil.
4. After around 5 minutes the tempeh should all be crisp. Next, pour the tamari mixture over top and stir constantly as the mixture will thicken and get sticky. After about 30 seconds to 1 minute, the sauce will have reduced. Remove from the heat immediately.
5. Serve the warm tempeh with butter lettuce, sesame seeds, extra veggies, rice (see note), and tahini sauce.
If you want the meal to go father or be more filling, try adding some cooked rice or quinoa to the lettuce cup.