Tempeh, the famous Indonesian dish made from soybeans, has found a new home in Brooklyn.
Barry Schwartz, owner and creator of Barry’s Tempeh, is reintroducing this unique vegan product into the western market.
Traditionally, tempehs are made through the process of fermentation, where the heat kills the active cultures that could enhance digestion. Therefore, Barry found a new technique of keeping those active ingredients alive. “We freeze them to stop fermentation,” said Schwartz. “They contain probiotics, like those in the yogurt.”
The tempeh has a firm texture, and is compressed tightly into a rectangular block giving it the appearance of a block of cheese. The inner content has more moisture, and has a nutty and meaty taste like that of a veggie burger.
It can be prepared in several ways, such as deep-frying, marinating, or even using it as soup base.
“We want people to know that it’s okay to eat tempeh without being vegetarians,” said Schwartz, saying that many people perceive tempeh as a food only vegans would love.
Right now, Barry’s Tempeh gets delivered to a number of Brooklyn grocery shops, such as Back to the Land and Brooklyn Commune. Because the tempeh needs to be frozen, delivery right now is limited to the borough.
Representatives from Barry’s Tempeh give live cooking demonstrations in the spring and summer. You can find them in places such as Smorgasburg in Williamsburg and at the South Street Seaport.
“Many people don’t know what tempeh is, but when they try it, they like it,” said Schwartz.