Korean Barbecue Tempeh Tacos
Lately I’ve been looking for ways to spice up my weekly lunches. Last week, I decided to incorporate a new ingredient into my weekly meal plan: tempeh! What is tempeh, you ask? Tempeh is a high protein meat alternative made from fermented soy. It is NOT tofu. Tempeh is minimally processed, uses whole soybeans, and has a hearty and firm texture. It has a mild flavor, generally described as earthy or nutty. However, it typically takes on the flavor of whatever you choose to cook with it. There are many health benefits to tempeh, some of which include improved gut health, cholesterol reduction, increased bone density, and muscle-protein synthesis. I know there’s a hot debate out there about soy products, so if you don’t soy, you can always sub in beef or chicken in place of tempeh (FYI, organic, unprocessed, fermented soy is beneficial for your health – it’s the GMO soy and the excess in which we use it that can be harmful to our health).
So anyway: I knew I wanted to use tempeh in a weekly recipe. I also knew I had a hankering for some Korean food. I also knew Cinco de Mayo was right around the corner. Take all of these elements, and what do you come up with? Korean Barbecue – Tempeh – Tacos! Genius, if I do say so myself. This recipe is truly a new favorite. You can make this recipe for dinner, or if you’re meal prepping: prep all of the ingredients in advance and store in air tight containers in the fridge. Everything will be fine in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you can just prep your tacos as needed.
SERVINGS [8 TACOS]
For the Korean BBQ Tempeh Marinade:
10 ounces tempeh, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
Quick pickled vegetables:
1 cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
Additional salt or sugar to taste (optional)
8 corn tortilla shells
8 thin slices pepper jack cheese
Cabbage slaw (I used a pre-made mix of onions, cabbage, peppers, and carrots)
1 avocado, peeled and diced (optional)
1 container kimchi
Cilantro (to garnish)
Combine the cubed tempeh with all marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag. Massage the sauce to coat all of the tempeh. Allow to marinade in the fridge while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Next, combine all of the quick pickle ingredients in a large bowl. Move to the fridge and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before using. These can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
When you’re ready, heat the marinated tempeh in a large pan (throw in the remaining marinade and all). Add some high temperature cooking oil to the pan (like avocado oil), add the tempeh, and saute until heated through (approximately 5-7 minutes). Set aside.
Now it’s time to build your tacos!
Start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. You will need to heat the corn tortillas in batches so you don’t overcrowd the skillet.
Place two or three tacos at a time in the skillet. Place a slice of pepper jack cheese on each corn tortilla. Continue cooking the tortillas until the cheese has melted and is bubbling, and the corn tortilla is ever-so-slightly crispy. This makes for a sturdier tortilla with better texture.
Immediately move the corn tortillas with cheese to your plate and start building your tacos. To each taco, you will add slaw, Korean BBQ tempeh, diced avocado, kimchi, quick pickled vegetables, sriracha, and cilantro. Enjoy! And good luck not going back for seconds 🙂