Tempeh has long been a staple of vegetarian and vegan diets, but it’s starting to enjoy a more mainstream appeal, according to Sarah Bourke of Byron Bay Tempeh.

Sarah says she has noticed a growing interest in tempeh among people who don’t want to give up meat altogether, but are trying to reduce their consumption.

“I think there’s a lot of research coming out now saying that we’re consuming too much meat – bowel cancer and things like that are on the rise – so we’re getting a lot more customers who aren’t necessarily vegetarian or vegan, but just wanting to introduce a few more vegetarian meals to their diet.”

For the uninitiated, tempeh is an Indonesian food –  traditionally made from fermented soy beans – with a firm, chewy texture and earthy flavour. There are supermarket versions, but there is just no comparison between the mass-produced versions and Sarah’s home made tempeh.

Importantly, Sarah does not pasteurise (heat treat) her tempeh, which means it retains the probiotics that develop during the fermentation process: “all the living goodness, the culture and the enzymes in there stay alive,” she said. This makes the tempeh easy to digest, and good for your gut.

Byron Bay Tempeh’s other point of difference is that it is non-soy.  With growing evidence that eating too much soy can be harmful – and so few vegetarian proteins available that that aren’t soy-based – Sarah wanted to create a good non-soy vegetarian protein that she would be happy to feed to her children.

Sarah makes three varieties of tempeh: Fava Bean and Wakame, Organic Chickpea, and a new product made from Yellow Split Peas and Brown Rice, which has a milder flavour and is a good choice for those new to tempeh.

There are a myriad of ways to serve tempeh: cubed, fried and added to salads, on a tempeh burger, in a curry, or in Asian noodle dishes. Local foodie Janella Purcell –  a huge fan of Byron Bay Tempeh – even eats it for breakfast.

At the markets, Sarah and her partner Luc fry it in a little olive or coconut oil, sprinkle with salt, and serve with a Davidson’s Plum dipping sauce, while at home they often fry it in strips and serve with a salad, sauerkraut and roast veggies “just like your meat and three veg,” Sarah said.




1 packet tempeh, crumbled

2/3 cup besan flour

1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 5 tbsp water

6 kaffir lime leaves cut very very finely

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp gluten free tamari

1/4 tsp tumeric

salt to taste

1 chili finely chopped (optional)

splash of soy, rice, almond or cows milk

rice bran or sunflower oil

Mix all of the above ingredients except the oil together and then heat a splash or two of oil in a frying pan. Place spoonfulls of the tempeh mixture in the frying pan.  Turn the tempeh cake over after a few minutes or when brown.  Press on the cake with the spatula so the mixture cooks through.  Cook for a further two minutes or until  browned to your liking.

Serve with a salad and mango salsa.



Recipe courtesy of Veet’s Cuisine: veetscuisine.com.au