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Szechwan Tempeh

Even if you are not vegetarian, sport this dish on your next Meatless Monday.  We usually serve it with a grain such as  Mediterranean Quinoa, Sweet Rice Timbales or Saffron Buttered Millet Mango Lime Salsa is the perfect sweet condiment for this savory vegetarian dish.  For more information about tempeh see The Cookus Cupboard: Beans and Soyfoods.

cup coconut oil
1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into 1/4" strips
2 tablespoons white miso
- 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons tamari or shoyu
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil or hot pepper oil


1 scallion, thinly sliced

Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a 10-inch skillet.  Place half of the tempeh strips in the skillet and let them quick-fry, turning them so that both sides brown.  Remove fried tempeh onto a paper towel and repeat the process with the other half of the tempeh strips.  Let skillet cool.  This process is described in more detail in our Fried Tempeh video.

In a small bowl, mix miso and water together with a whisk until miso is dissolved.  Add tamari, mirin, vinegar, syrup and sesame oil to miso and whisk again. 

Place fried tempeh back in the skillet and turn heat to medium low.  Pour sauce over the tempeh and bring to a low simmer.  Sauce will begin to reduce and thicken. Once sauce becomes thick and glistening, garnish with scallion and serve immediately.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes 3 servings

Reprinted with permission from
Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)


Julie Negrin
May 13, 2010, 1:11 pm

Yasmine Khattab
Hi Cynthia, Do you know what I can add instead of Mirin?
May 19, 2010, 3:17 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Yasmine, Sherry or sake can replace mirin.
May 19, 2010, 3:32 pm

Leah Niu
Love this recipe! Thank you so much, one question though: When do we add the rest of the 1/4th of the cup of coconut oil?
May 28, 2010, 5:15 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Leah, You use 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil to fry 1/2 of the strips and the remaining 2 tablespoons for the other half (4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup)
May 28, 2010, 10:11 pm

elizabeth shipley
For those who want to make their own tempeh:
June 6, 2010, 4:06 pm

Rebecca Pouliot
How long does it take to reduce the sauce? The last few times we've made it, we gave up and ate it unreduced.
July 15, 2010, 8:37 pm

Cynthia Lair
Sounds like you have the heat too low. The sauce should be bubbling and you should see steam coming off the pan. The moisture evaporating thickens the sauce.
July 15, 2010, 8:48 pm

Dave Enn
An authentic 'Sichuan' dish made with Japanese and Italian ingredients. Hmmm.
April 27, 2011, 2:56 pm

Quick question: Could I use rice vinegar instead of Mirin? I am looking for a replacement that's not alcoholic (mostly for budget purposes). Thanks!
November 7, 2011, 9:52 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Lauren, Mirin is not a vinegar so replacing it with a vinegar might may the sauce too acidic. Mirin adds a sweet flavor, like sherry. You could simply add a little more maple syrup and water to mimic the sweet liquid. White wne or sake would also work.
November 8, 2011, 8:07 am

Maria Claps
I thought you are not supposed to heat up miso? I always put it in my soups AFTER I turn the flame off and let it dissolve with the residual heat.
September 13, 2014, 11:36 am

Molly Parkhurst
This was delicious! I also just tried your Tempeh Red Pepper Stroganoff, and substituted 1 Tbsp tapioca flour for the wheat flour, and it was so delicious, as well!
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