When my husband and I traveled to Jamacia, we loved jerk sauce, so I brought Jamacia home and made jerk tempeh. Jerk tempeh, when grilled, tastes delicious with a hint of thyme, ginger which can be hot or mild.
Of course, I like it hot! However, the spice level is up to individual preference, and the jerk tempeh recipe is easily adjustable. Since travel isn't an option, this is my way of enjoying the islands at home.
Grilled tempeh is one of my favorite plant proteins! Not only is it high in protein, but tempeh absorbs flavors for the perfect vegan meat for grilling. Whenever I prepare grilled tempeh, I choose various marinades to enhance whatever dishes I plan to serve.
WHAT IS TEMPEH?
Similar to tofu, tempeh is a soy product. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is formed into a dense-like cake. Although tempeh is a soy-based product, oftentimes, it contains grains, beans, and flavoring.
Nutty in flavor and less processed than tofu, tempeh is sometimes ignored because people don’t know how to cook it. Often, people complain about bitterness and texture. But, if prepared correctly, tempeh is a fabulous, healthy meat replacement.
High in protein and less processed than tofu, tempeh sometimes gets a bad reputation. Once cooked correctly, you will love tempeh as much as I do.
WHY BOIL TEMPEH FOR BEFORE MARINATING AND GRILLING JERK TEMPEH?
First, you need to know my best kept little secret! Tempeh, for instance, is naturally bitter and a bit tough. As a result, tempeh does not absorb the marinade and take on a BBQ grill flavor without boiling it first.
Yes, that’s what I said. Boiling tempeh for a short 10 minutes takes away the bitterness and then absorbs marinades like a sponge.
Next, remove the tempeh from the package, and cut it in half, making two equal-sized squares. Then, place the tempeh pieces in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, and then remove the tempeh from the boiling water to marinate.
- Boiling removes tempeh’s naturally bitter taste.
- It softens the tempeh to make it easier to eat and enjoy
- And, boiling allows for better saturation of marinate
I marinate my tempeh beforehand, so it absorbs the flavors of the sauce I plan to use. Regardless of the sauce, marinating is a must. This time, I chose a simple jerk marinade for the jerk tempeh recipe. But, first, allow the tempeh to cool.
Again, whatever marinade you choose, I suggest marinating overnight for the best results.
For this jerk tempeh recipe, I made my own marinade. Obviously, you can choose a bottled sauce instead, but I prefer to make my own sauces and marinades.
WHAT IS JERK SAUCE AND MARINADE? WHAT IS JERK SEASONING
There are many jerk sauce versions in Jamaica, but the one common ingredient is scotch bonnet peppers. The difference between a sauce and a marinade, however, is a game-changer.
One of the first mistakes I made, for instance, was attempting to buy a bottle of sauce and attempt to use it to marinate my jerk tofu.
Because jerk sauce is so spicy, trying to eat tofu marinated in a jerk sauce is like eating fire! Before knowing the difference between my Jamaican friend’s jerk marinade recipe and the bottle of Pickappa Jamaican Sauce, I bought at a Jamaican store to take home caused a disaster.
Not only did I ruin an entire bottle of sauce and a package of tofu, but my first attempt at jerk tofu was an epic fail. My friend then pointed out the difference between the potent sauce, which is used sparingly, and a marinade to cook with.
Jerk seasoning, on the other hand, is made of a combination of spices that is used as a rub on meats. What I learned through trial and error, however, is to use jerk sauce to add a little more spice to food. Jerk marinade is for vegetables, tofu, and veggie burgers.
HOW TO MAKE SPICY, TANGY, AND DELICIOUS JERK TEMPEH
Despite the number of ingredients, Jamaican jerk tofu is marinaded in jerk sauce overnight. To achieve the authentic taste of Jamacia, I make a homemade oil-free sauce. Although my kitchen is far from a jerk hut on a beach, the sauce is right on!
If you prefer to skip this step, I highly suggest Walkerwoods Jerk Marinade, authentic to Jamacia. But be careful! Walkerwoods also makes a bottled seasoning (wet, not fry) and a sauce. Again, make sure you buy the marinade!
HOMEMADE OIL-FREE JERK SAUCE FOR JERK TEMPEH RECIPE
- 1 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 green onions (scallions), chopped
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers, stems and seeds removed, chopped (habaneros can be used instead if you can’t find scotch bonnet peppers)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon all-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 inch fresh ginger
HOW TO GRILL JERK TEMPEH PERFECTLY EVERY TIME!
First, begin by allowing the tempeh to marinate as long as possible. Then, preheat the grill to medium or 400 degrees, and allow it to heal completely.
- Place the marinated tempeh directly on the grill grate.
- Cook for 16 minutes, rotating 4 times within the 16 minutes time frame (every 4 minutes)
- Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board for slicing, or serve as is, allowing your guests to cut their own tempeh steaks.
Once cooked, the jerk tempeh can be sliced or left in a whole piece for a sandwich or eaten with a fork and knife like a steak.
WAYS TO SERVE JERK TEMPEH RECIPE
One of my favorite ways to serve jerk tempeh is on top of a mango slaw. Not only is mango naturally a perfect match for jerk tempeh, but its tropical flavor also resonates with Jamacia.
Another idea is to serve the jerk tempeh on top of the mango slaw and skip the bread.
Since we can't travel, bring the little Caribbean love to your kitchen and enjoy jerk tempeh. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, you will love the flavor!
IF YOU ENJOY COOKING WITH TEMPEH, CHECK OUT THESE TEMPEH RECIPES
- Tempeh Grilled
- Tempeh Kabobs
- Buffalo Tempeh
- Tempeh Tacos
- Vegan Tempeh Reuben
- BBQ Tempeh
- Thai Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
- Vegan BLT
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂