Sticky Ginger Tempeh with Coconut Rice

Created by Laura Wright
4.99 from 61 votes

Sticky ginger tempeh with coconut rice is a super flavourful and easy vegan dinner. The tempeh is meaty and pairs well with the coconut rice.

Overhead shot of a bowl of sticky ginger tempeh with coconut rice with a lime wedge alongside.

Despite this post about sticky ginger tempeh today, I am really fussy about tempeh in general. I know that it’s good for me and that it’s a superstar source of vegan protein, but sometimes the flavour/texture of it doesn’t sit right. I’m not a picky eater, but there’s something about tempeh that presents a mental block for me. I will pump myself up to eat it, load it up with the flavours that I like, and then I’ll put one morsel in my mouth and immediately feel like spitting it out. What gives!

Every once in a while I hit on the right combination of cooking method and flavour treatment though. This marinated and grilled tempeh is a good example, and also this broccoli caesar with smoky tempeh bits from my cookbook is another application that I enjoy. Both methods turn to deep browning and big flavours for a tasty end result.

Maybe you’re wondering though: what even is tempeh? Tempeh is a fermented “cake” made from cooked soybeans (and sometimes other grains like rice or kamut) that have been inoculated with a fermentation starter. It’s been made and enjoyed in Indonesia for thousands of years. The fermentation process helps to break down the phytic acid in the soybeans and also enables better digestion of the starches.

The culturing is also what gives us the solid patty-like texture and signature nutty/earthy flavour. Tempeh can taste mushroom-y and this is likely because the culturing results in a thin film of mycelium (fungus!) that encases the soybeans. And a historical fun fact: It is thought that tempeh-making became an accidental byproduct of tofu making, which was introduced by Chinese immigrants to the island of Java during the 17th century. The more you know :)

Knowing its origins and production process, we can begin to understand why tempeh tastes so good with super punchy and rich flavours like chili, ginger, coconut, lime, and soy sauce, which happens to be the flavour profile we’re going with here in this recipe! We first steam the tempeh to remove any trace of bitterness. Then, it’s crumbled up and lightly browned, and finally finished with a tamari-based treatment with lots of ginger, garlic, a bit of sweetness, and some heat (which is optional). The sauce thickens slightly, clinging to the browned bits of tempeh. I opted to serve this with some coconut rice to make it a bit more special and to play off of the ginger and lime.

I also want to add that the flavour base of soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic does have elements of the flavour profile of bulgogi—Korean marinated and barbecued beef. Definitely not saying that this tempeh is precisely like that dish—just acknowledging the sauce and flavour similarities. My recipe here does not have sesame oil and it also uses lime for acidity. If you want to read a bit more about bulgogi and check out a vegan recipe for it with soy curls, take a look at this post from the Veggiekins blog.

Hope you give this sticky ginger tempeh recipe a try—especially all of my tempeh skeptics. It’s sticky, salty, spicy, lightly caramelized, and bright. A huge flavour bomb with the most lush coconut rice accompaniment. The tempeh itself comes together pretty quick, which is a nice bonus! Hope you’re all keeping well out there.

Sticky ginger tempeh getting sautéed in a pan.
Overhead shot of a bowl of sticky ginger tempeh with coconut rice with a lime wedge alongside.

Sticky Ginger Tempeh with Coconut Rice

Sticky ginger tempeh with coconut rice is a super flavourful and easy vegan dinner. The tempeh is meaty and spicy and pairs well with mellow coconut rice.
4.99 from 61 votes
An overhead shot of crumbled tempeh coated in a red spice blend/sauce treatment. The tempeh is served on top of rice and garnished with sliced green onions.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

COCONUT RICE

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, thoroughly rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

TEMPEH

  • 1 8 oz block of tempeh, cut into 1 inch slices
  • ¼ cup tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce of choice (optional–or use less!)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or other heat-tolerant oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Notes

  • This tempeh is also delicious with plain rice, but I wanted to give you the option of taking things to the next level! I would serve this with a simple side of steamed/roasted broccoli or green beans.
  • I haven’t tried this recipe with a fluid sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar. My hunch is that the sauce will not thicken around the tempeh bits as much and you may have to introduce a starch.
  • Steaming the tempeh ahead of time is a key step! It helps to reduce that trace of bitterness.

Instructions

  • Make the coconut rice. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the coconut milk, water, coconut sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring a few times to dissolve the sugar. Add the rinsed brown basmati rice to the saucepan and stir. Bring the coconut rice up to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and then cover the saucepan with a lid. Simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the lime zest and juice to the coconut rice and fluff/lightly stir with a fork. Return the lid to the pot and let it sit on the warm stove for 3-4 minutes, or keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Make the sticky ginger tempeh. Cover the bottom of a medium skillet with water and place it on the stove over medium heat. Once it’s simmering, add your tempeh slices and cover. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. Remove the tempeh from the skillet with tongs and place it on a plate to cool. Rinse the skillet and wipe it out. You’ll be using it to finish the tempeh.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, coconut sugar, hot sauce, and lime juice. Set aside.
  • Pat the steamed tempeh with some a clean kitchen towel to dry. Crumble the tempeh into little pieces.
  • Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat. Pour in the avocado oil and swirl it around. Add the tempeh to the skillet and stir. Sauté the tempeh until the pieces are lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Season the tempeh with salt and pepper and stir. Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet and stir until quite fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour the tamari mixture into the skillet and stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet with a spatula if necessary. Keep cooking the tempeh until the sauce has caramelized slightly and turned deeper brown, about 6-7 minutes. Check the sticky ginger tempeh for seasoning and then adjust if necessary (more salt, pepper, hot sauce, lime etc).
  • Serve the sticky ginger tempeh hot with coconut rice and sliced green onions.
A bowl of sticky ginger tempeh with coconut rice.
27/05/2020 (Last Updated 06/11/2023)
Posted in: autumn, coconut milk, creamy, earthy, gluten free, main course, nut free, quick, salty, side dish, spicy, spring, summer, tempeh, umami, vegan, winter

53 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Andrea Anoka

    5 stars
    I have been yearning to make this dish for some time and always use my clients as guinea pigs for new dishes! This time, I was the guinea pig before trying out on a client and I must say, I KNEW this was going to be a winner. I just didn’t know how INCREDIBLE it was going to be. My partner and I both enjoyed every bit of it.

    I was blown away at how incredibly delicious and unique the coconut rice was. This is my new fav way to make rice. I did make a few tweaks and I truly recommend anyone trying it out. Since I didn’t have hot sauce but did have a little leftover red curry paste, and didn’t have the full amount of coconut sugar but did have a bit of raw cane sugar, I used these as adjustments and my oh my was it finger licking good!

    I cut the tempeh into triangles and left them whole when I cooked them in the sauce. I will be trying out the crumbles for my client tomorrow. Can’t wait to see which option I like better! I also added in some steamed broccoli and cauliflower. I had extra sauce leftover so I finished the veggies in the remaining sauce. Topped with furikake and I was in absolute heaven.

    Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  • Valerie

    5 stars
    So delicious! This is so easy to make and has so much flavor. It’s become a part of our regular rotation and one of our favorite ways to make tempeh!

  • erin

    5 stars
    This recipe is so delicious. I love making it as is but I will also make just the tempeh and use it as a filling for lettuce wraps. I usually double the tempeh because it’s that good.

  • Char

    5 stars
    delicious and easy to make! Thanks!

  • Serra

    5 stars
    I’m obsessed! Wow! The flavours are so beautiful. I would double the tempeh because I couldn’t get enough!

  • E

    5 stars
    I saw this featured in your newsletter today and got really excited when I remembered I had all the ingredients in my fridge/pantry to cook this tonight! This recipe is amazing and has become a staple in the regular rotation of dinners. It’s sweet, sour, gingery , sticky, and crispy: all the best flavors and textures— and is filling and satisfying without feeling super heavy. I like to double the tempeh and add extra lime (by extra I mean the juice from 2 limes haha ). Thanks for all of your accessible and flavorful recipes, this one is particularly killer!

  • Emily

    5 stars
    Truly one of my favorite tempeh recipes! I make it time and time again.

  • Megan

    5 stars
    Delicious! Felt like takeout! I added shiitake mushrooms to the tempeh…so yummy!

  • Ramona

    5 stars
    Very easy and yummy recipe. This will be included in my weekly rotation of go-to recipes. I followed the recipe; next time I plan to skip the tempeh steaming to eliminate a step, plus make more of the sauce in order to include vegetables along with the tempeh. So yum! Thank you!

  • Chandler

    5 stars
    This is delicious and so quick! I just finished a bowl . I added some steamed broccoli and used plain rice. I also topped with sesame seeds and chili crisp. I’ll definitely keep this on the regular quick weeknight recipe rotation.

  • Melissa

    5 stars
    This was so good! It’s the best tempeh I’ve ever had. We had it with the coconut rice and green beans. Will definitely be making it again!

  • Rebecca

    5 stars
    Just made this for dinner tonight. Easy to make, this dish is delicious! The coconut rice is perfection, and the sticky ginger tempeh complements it beautifully. I love the texture of the tempeh–it has “teeth”–and I’m a ginger freak, so the amount of ginger in this recipe suits me well. My husband and I eat vegan 50% of the time (our goal is 80%), and this dish is now in permanent rotation!

  • Baxter

    5 stars
    This Tempeh recipe is THE BOMB!  Easy to make and super tasty!!  :)

  • Adam

    4 stars
    I made it with maple and it came out just as thick and bubbly. Great recipe, thanks for the share! :)

    • Adam

      Oh yeah, and if you use a zester to grate the ginger, the flavors really melds together.

  • Jen

    Giiirrrr-RRRRLL!! This was SUCH HOT FIRE!!
    We loved this so much! I made a portion for my husband with chicken and the rest with Tempe.. dang!! The whole family was happy!

  • Keli

    5 stars
    This was phenomenal. Probably the best preparation of tempeh I’ve ever had. Healthy, inexpensive, nutritious, and pretty easy. This one is going into my regular rotation. The coconut rice really makes it! Added a couple Kaffir lime leaves to the pot and it was delicious. 

  • Paula

    5 stars
    This recipe is a winner! We made this for dinner and my whole family, including my 18 month old loved it. My husband (who used to be a big meat eater) said it should go into our dinner rotation!

  • Allie

    5 stars
    this is literally the best thing i have ever eaten

  • Angela

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! Outstanding flavor and simple to put together for a quick evening meal. 

  • Laurie Appelbaum

    5 stars
    We absolutely love, love this dish!!  

  • kristin

    5 stars
    This is delicious! I mixed shredded carrot in with the tempeh. :)

  • Kara

    5 stars
    This was the perfect dish. Salty and sweet. Love the coconut rice. I followed someone’s advice and used my instant pot for rice and just reduced the water by 1/2. Came out perfect. Whole family ate it. This might be my favorite way to eat tempeh – in the crumbled bits. Thanks!

  • Kristine

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious! Such a great recipe. 

  • Isabel

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. Easy and delicious, great  alternative to meat!

  • Lindsey

    5 stars
    Delicious!!

  • Jill

    5 stars
    This was SOO GOOD. Will become a weekly go-to. Skipped the rice and ate the sticky tempeh in a lettuce wrap with some diced red pepper added together with the sauce. Didn’t have any ginger so added extra garlic, and it was still tasty! 

  • Allie

    5 stars
    this is literally the best meal i have ever had omg 

  • Renee

    5 stars
    I ended up making this in a pinch because I had most of the ingredients on hand and woah!! Fantastic. I wound up doing 1/2 tempeh 1/2 tofu because I was low on tempeh and it was still delicious. I’ll definitely be making this again :) Thanks!!

  • Amy

    5 stars
    Delicious!⭐️

  • rebecca jones

    5 stars
    This was SO GOOD!!!!! The coconut rice was perfection and the tempeh was so tasty. Thanks for the great blog

  • Tracy

    5 stars
    DELICIOUS! By far the best prepared tempeh I have made! 

  • Jenna

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! We have made it a few times now and one of our favourite ways to eat tempeh! The rice is so delicious as well. Thanks for the easy weeknight dinner.

  • Alex O

    This was a disaster. The tempeh just absorbed the soy sauce which resulted in a pan full of mushy tempeh. There was no sticky, soy sauce coated tempeh crumbles. Instead, the result was mushy, mealy tempeh crumbles that basically tasted like they had been soaked in soy sauce sitting on top of slightly undercooked rice. We took a few bites and threw it all out.

  • Rachel

    This was phenomenal! It’s one of the best meals I’ve made in 2020—it’s really really simple and so flavorful.

    I skipped the tempeh steaming step because personally, I don’t notice a huge change whether I steam or don’t steam, and I love tempeh either way. This helped keep the kitchen cooler (July heat!) and the process faster. I don’t have coconut sugar so I used raw cane sugar.

    I made the rice as described and everyone loved it, but honestly, I’d also like this with regular old rice! The tempeh really shines, so a plain grain would be just fine with me.

  • Julie Patterson

    I have made this dish twice and really enjoyed it. I did tweak it a little for our picky palates the 2nd go round by using just a dash of the hot sauce(my hubby is a heat lightweight!) And i did add some honey (how can you ever go wrong with a bit of honey?!)
    Your recipes have always proven delicious and this one is exceptional! Thank you!

  • Sarah Gold

    I’ve made this twice now. Delicious! Tonight, I doubled the sauce for the tempeh and added broccoli to the pan for the last 6-7 minutes. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Anita

    This was delish! Crumbled and crispy tempeh is definitely the way to go. I did the coconut rice in the instant pot which worked really well I just decreased the water by 1/2. Will definitely cook tempeh like this again :)

  • Alix

    Beyond delicious. I would possibly reduce the ginger. Used a chipotle hot sauce. Adding this to the recipe rotation

  • Emily

    HELL. YA. Just made this tonight and HOLY SHIZ. SO easy and reminds me of my childhood favorite, sesame chicken! Best recipe I have made in a while!

  • Amanda

    Made this for dinner tonight just as written and served with steamed broccoli
    – my whole family loved it! Thank you for another great recipe, Laura! This one’s definitely going in my saved folder :)

  • mariah j kahl

    So good. Savory and sweet. I used hone in place of coconut sugar and it was good. My non vegan family ate it all!

  • Jessica

    This was easy to make and so flavourful. We had it with a side of steamed asparagus. Perfection!

  • Julie Patterson

    We made this recipe exactly as you directed with fantastic results! It was a delicious meal. Thank you

  • Emily

    Thanks for this recipe Laura! I feel the exact same way about tempeh, so usually shy away from cooking it but this recipe was a hit. My whole family loved it and my 5 year old even gave it a thumbs up (which is saying something considering the number of so-sos I’ve been getting lately). This will be added to our regular rotation!

  • Grace

    This was so so delicious!!! And really easy to make – thank you for sharing xx

  • Kim H

    This was SO delicious. I prepared the recipe as stated (I even steamed the tempeh, which I never do but I trust Laura completely). At the end, I added a squeeze of lime juice. Served with broccoli that I roasted in the gas grill (broccoli + evoo + s +p on sheet pan on 400 degree grill). What a great meal! My husband is new to plants – he went back for seconds.
    Thank you, Laura!

  • Virginia

    Hi this looks awesome! Do you think the recipe would work with granulated stevia?

    • Laura

      Hi Virginia!
      I think it would work, but maybe start with a small amount and adjust to your liking from there. Stevia can be much sweeter than coconut palm sugar and varies in strength from brand to brand. I’d refer to the package of your stevia, see what their recommendations are in terms of swapping for typical sugar, and then go from there. Hope this is helpful!
      -L

  • Allison Ehlers

    Hi, I am a recent convert to vegetarianism and I LOVE your recipes! I am also not a huge fan of tempeh. DO you think I could use jackfruit instead?
    Thanks!

    • Laura

      Hi Allison!
      You could definitely give jackfruit the same treatment here. If you’re using canned or vacuum sealed jackfruit, there’s no need to pre-steam it (like I suggest with the tempeh in this recipe).
      -L

    • Donna-Jane

      Hi Laura- what do you recommend as a good source for tempeh please?
      Thanks~Donna

      • Laura

        Thanks for this question! Locally, I’ve only been able to get Lightlife tempeh and sometimes temeph from an Ontario brand called Henry’s Tempeh. When we were able to hop over to the US, I would always grab Smiling Hara’s Hempeh because it is really my favourite. I like the basic “Salt and Pepper Steak” one because it’s the easiest to incorporate into recipes.
        -L