I have been eating tofu for pretty much my entire life. I usually had tofu with a Japanese dinner in the form of miso soup or as a side dish with some shoyu and scallion on top. Tofu is great, but definitely on the more bland side. Ever since I’ve discovered tempeh, I’ve shied away from tofu for the most part. (That isn’t to say I don’t still like it!)
I’ve read that tempeh can impart a bitter flavor. I honestly don’t find it bitter at all. I love tempeh for it’s “cheese-like” flavor, which i suppose is due to the fact that it’s fermented. In this dish, I simmered my tempeh the day before just to “open it up” a little. I find that if you cook tempeh lightly (usually steaming or simmering) before basting or marinating it, it absorbs more flavor.
Tempeh benefits from adding soy sauce, I’ve found. Sometimes when I’m feeling lazy/hungry, I just pan fry tempeh in soy sauce and call it a day. It’s very acceptable. (Also, make tempeh into “bacon”. It’s mind-blowing!)
The glaze that I’ve made for this recipe is similar to a soy sauce since it contains miso. I used white (shiro) miso but you can use any that you prefer. I normally save the darker or red miso for winter months. I also added a little coconut sugar to balance out the salt in the glaze. This made the dish much more complex than I expected. If you aren’t too keen on a sweeter sauce, stick to just adding mirin. No harm will be done!
I highly recommend serving the tempeh over buckwheat soba noodles. The earthy flavor of buckwheat will stand out to the robust miso glaze. If you’re more of a rice person, sweet brown rice would be my suggestion. I kept the broth for the soba on the simple side. I did, however, include some seaweed in the broth for a briny, fishy flavor. The seaweed is to replace the bonito flakes that are often found in Japanese broth. I absolutely love the taste of fish and seaweed, but I know that not everyone else does! You can omit the seaweed if you don’t care for it.
To keep the dish gluten-free, I used Eden buckwheat soba. It’s 100% buckwheat flour. There are many brands that mix buckwheat flour with wheat flour, so make sure to read their labels. I highly recommend Eden for soba and any of their other products.
Miso Glazed Tempeh and Soba Noodles
Source: Miso Glaze Recipe adapted from Kansha by Elizabeth Andoh (great book!)
Miso Glazed Tempeh
- 2 Tb miso (preferably organic)
- 1 1/2 tsp coconut sugar, optional
- 1 tsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
- 2 tsp water/vegetable stock
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1-8 oz. package of tempeh (I used LightLife)
**While you prepare the tempeh, start boiling a large pot of water for your soba!**
- Whisk all ingredients (except tempeh) in a small dish. Set aside.
- Cut the tempeh into 8 pieces. I quartered the whole patty and then cut each quarter into triangles.
- In a large skillet, melt about a tablespoon of coconut oil (or other high heat cooking oil) over medium heat.
- Pan fry each piece of tempeh until caramelized, about 3-5 minutes per side.
- Set the cooked tempeh aside and continue to cook your noodles.
- 1/4 cup tamari/gluten free soy sauce or alternative
- 1 1/2 Tb mirin
- pinch of granulated dulse, a red seaweed (you can substitute nori), optional
- 3 Tb water/vegetable stock
- 1 package of 100% buckwheat soba noodles
- 1 large pot of boiling water
- generous pinch of salt
- stamp-sized piece of dried kombu (seaweed), optional
- Heat a large pot of water to boil. Add the salt and kombu to the water, if using.
- While waiting for the water, whisk together the tamari, mirin, dulse, and water/stock to combine in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Drop the soba into the boiling water and follow the cooking directions provided on the package.
- Drain the noodles once they have cooked. Either keep them hot or rinse them with cold water for a cold dish.
- When serving, douse the soba with your broth (you can also eat this in a bowl as a soup!). Place 1-2 pieces of tempeh on top and garnish with dulse (opt.).
- Enjoy with hashi! (chopsticks)