Cooking up meat alternatives

While tofu and tempeh may seem bland or unappetizing, even those with limited cooking abilities can incorporate a few cooking techniques to make these two soy-based meat substitutes surprisingly delicious. Below are two recipes that can be served on their own or prepared over rice and cooked vegetables.

Sesame Tofu

Total preparation time: 45 minutes

Active preparation time: 15 minutes 


7 ounce block of firm tofu 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons sesame seeds 

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons garlic paste

1 tablespoon rice vinegar 

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cornstarch


1. Drain water from the tofu package and wrap the block in a towel. Stack a heavy object, like a cast iron skillet, on top of the tofu, and let it dry for 30 minutes. Minimal moisture should remain.  

2. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.

3. Add sesame oil to a skillet over medium heat. Allow oil about 30 seconds to heat up. 

4. Add tofu to the skillet and cook for about five minutes, rotating the cubes frequently until browned on all sides.

5. In a bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Slowly incorporate cornstarch, while whisking vigorously. 

6. Once tofu is done cooking, turn off heat and add sauce to the pan. Mix sauce and tofu for an additional two minutes.  

7. Top with chives and sesame seeds. 


Teriyaki Tempeh


8 ounce block of tempeh

1/3 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


1. Cut tempeh into thin strips that are 2 inches long.

2. Whisk together vegetable broth, soy sauce, garlic powder and onion powder. Place tempeh into a bowl and pour the marinade in. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. 

3. In a medium-sized pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat and add tempeh. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until each side is crispy.  

4. Once cooked, remove tempeh from the pan and mix with teriyaki sauce in a bowl. Once coated in sauce, return the tempeh to the pan and cook on medium heat for an additional minute.

5. Turn off heat and pour remaining marinade into the pan. 

6. Top with chopped chives and sesame seeds.