How to make Soy-free Tempeh: Red Lentil Tempeh
Tempeh - Just like all fermented foods, it is an acquired taste, but once you start to like it... you are hooked.
The traditional Indonesian Tempeh is made with soy beans but like miso, Tempeh making is not limited to soy and you can use other ingredients to ferment. I love to use different types of legumes, grains and even nuts and seeds to change things up and make tempeh more interesting for different meals.
In this post I want to show how I make my red lentil tempeh which I like to use as vegan burger patties or for little appetizers. (Which will share in the next blog once you have the tempeh ready!)
To ferment tempeh, traditionally it is done in banana leaves, but in modern kitchens, most people will use ziplock bags which works perfectly fine but one downside is that you can only use the bags one time.
I like to use reusable containers and also have bit fun with the shapes that you can create with the different molds!
For the round "patty" shape, I use the maki sushi mold. Obviously, this is to shape rice but it has enough holes and perfect to make a "sausage" shape with the tempeh.
This is what the tempeh looks like when you use this mold.
Another one I like to use to make a "burger patty" is the pickle maker. It has a nice round shape that you can slide the tempeh out when it is ready.
This is what it looks like when it is ready.
Once the Tempeh is ready its solid and you can slice them into serving sizes and cook them too!
You only need 4 ingredients to make tempeh.
- Legume of your choice
- Tempeh Starter
- ... and water to boil the beans.
Legume of your choice
Pick any legume of your choice, or a combination of legumes. Cook them until edible but not too soft that they will fall apart. Our recipe is the weight of the raw (uncooked) dry legume, so if you are going to use canned (cooked) beans, you'll need to double or triple the weight of the legume for this recipe.
Just like any kind of fermentation, it will be easier to ferment with a "starter". We use a tempeh starter that is rice flour based inoculated with Rhizopus Oligosporus. This starter is suitable for most types of tempeh, including soy tempeh, chickpea tempeh, rice tempeh, barley tempeh and any of the pulses and seeds. It is NON GMO and animal product free so its totally safe to be used in vegan and vegetarian cooking.
We like to use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) but it can be any vinegar. It increases acidity (lower pH) to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria.
The fermentation will take about 24 to 48 hours in a HOT summer room temperature (around 30°C). Try to ensure that the room temperature is stable. No direct sunlight is best. Some kitchens will have a tempeh-making box, which is basically as air-tight as a fridge, but without the cooling function.
For this recipe, I chose red lentil and pine nuts because I like the colour of the lentil (trying to mimic a meat patty here!) and the small size of them, making them easier to mold. Pine nuts are great for flavor, especially when pan fried or grilled! Yummmmmmm!
So! Here goes the recipe :)
Red Lentil and Pine Nuts Tempeh
(Will make x1 of the maki shape and x1 of the pickle maker that can be sliced into 3 patties)
200g, Red Lentils (Raw)
50g, Pine Nuts
1 tsp., Tempeh Starter
1Tbsp, Apple Cider Vinegar
Tools that might be useful to make the patty shape
Kai Thick Maki Roll Mold
Glass Asazuke Pickle Maker
- To prepare the red lentil beans. measure 200g of the dry lentils and rinse off well. It is normal for the water to turn murky. Rinse off a few times and drain. NO NEED to soak!
- Cook the lentils. Pour about 1.5 L of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil first. Add the rinse and drained lentils to the water and boil it for 10 minutes. When the lentils are cooked but not falling apart, it's perfect. Quickly drain off the water and let the lentils cool off. DO NOT let the lentils sit in the hot water or they will get too soft to make tempeh.
- Place the cooked lentils in a mixing bowl and add the pine nuts in and add the Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the beans and mix well. Let the mixture cool off to room temperature.
- Make sure the beans are cooled down to room temperature and add the teaspoon full of tempeh starter and sprinkle it all on top of the beans and mix well.
- Prepare the fermentation mold. If you are using the pickling jar, line it with cooking paper and pour the beans in and flatten it down so that it is tightly packed. Cover with the lid and set aside.
- If you are using the sushi mold, rinse well and make sure the container is dry. Pour in the tempeh mixture and cover the lid. Make sure that you have enough mixture inside so that when you close the lid of the mold, it will be "packed" inside the mold. Set aside.
- For the fermentation, keep the tempeh in a warm place with NO direct sunlight for 24 to 48 hours according to the temperature and humidity. If you have an enclosed box, that will be a great place to ferment.
- When it is ready, it will look like this! Covered with beautiful white mold and slightly warm. The tempeh generates heat when it ferments.
Some spots might have some black mold. This is also normal and you can cut off that area and use the rest.
- Once the tempeh is ready, you can make your favorite tempeh recipe with this now!
To store, place the tempeh in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
We also teach how to make tempeh step by step in our Non-Soy Tempeh Making Class with a Tempeh Burger recipe too!