I love to make steamed tempeh for a couple reasons.
Firstly, it relaxes the tempeh patty so it can accept more flavors (especially when using a marinade*). But it also makes the tempeh much more tender and the flavor really shines through.
I also like to go through this step before using it in another way (such as baking it) for the reasons listed above.
But before we get into the HOW of steaming tempeh, let's have a quick chat about whether, in fact, you HAVE TO pre-cook your tempeh.
If you have purchased pre-cooked tempeh (always buy organic soy!) (most tempeh you buy in stores is pre-cooked - read the labels though), then you do not have to cook your tempeh before using it; however, I highly recommend you steam it for 10 minutes anyway for the reasons listed above.
If you have purchased raw tempeh which has NOT been pre-cooked (such as at an outdoor market), then you should steam your tempeh for a total of 20 minutes before eating or adding to any dish that requires no further cooking (such as a cold tempeh salad).
There are two different ways of making steamed tempeh:
Your tempeh is now ready to be eaten or used in any recipe that calls for tempeh. Be sure to check out our Tempeh Flavor Matches if you would like to create a recipe from scratch.
Need a recommendation for a good steamer? Check out my food steamer article where I explain the differences and how to choose the best one for the job and your cooking needs.
* Need some ideas for a marinade? Check out my article about how to bake tempeh where I have some that you can play around with. Enjoy!