What Is The Difference Between Tempeh And Tofu?

An exceptional source of a protein alternative to meat, tofu is a food that has now entered the diet not only of vegetarians and vegans.

Yet it is not the only soy-based food: less known but equally nutritious is tempeh. Both foods have a centuries-old tradition in Asia as a source of vegetable proteins: in the West, their diffusion has only occurred in recent decades.

Although similar in origin, there is a substantial difference between tempeh and tofu which makes one or the other more suitable for different types of preparations.

What Is The Difference Between Tempeh And Tofu


Difference Between Tempeh and Tofu: What is Tofu?

Unlike tempeh, tofu is made from curdling soy “milk” in a way similar to making traditional cheese. Extracted from soybeans after a cooking and grinding process, the “milk” is collected and processed in blocks, taking on the characteristic shape available on the market.

Originating from China, tofu is now readily available all over the world due to its ability to provide an easy source of protein. Tofu can have different textures depending on the variety. Dried tofu is the easiest to find and has a firmer texture. The velvety tofu instead has a consistency similar to jelly and is particularly used in vegan pastry.

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh originates from Indonesia and is made from whole soybeans that are often cooked, left to ferment, and then blended into blocks. It is not uncommon for other ingredients to be added to tempeh in addition to soy such as brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, or other seeds. Unlike the neutral flavor of tofu, tempeh has a decidedly more intense flavor tending towards nutty.

When made only with soy, tempeh is a gluten-free food. Depending on the seeds that are added, it can instead show more or less consistent traces so it is necessary to pay attention to those suffering from celiac disease.

Nutritional Differences

Flavor and texture certainly represent the most immediate difference between tempeh and tofu. The presence of whole seeds gives the tempeh a more solid and rubbery consistency and the fermentation process makes the flavor more intense. The tofu maintains a softer texture and a decidedly more neutral flavor.

Tofu is also a food with significantly fewer calories, only 83 per 100g of product. Tempeh, on the other hand, can reach up to 200 calories per 100g. As for protein, tempeh contains almost double that, 20g versus 10g for tofu. However, the real difference between tempeh and tofu is the fiber, 9g per 100g of tempeh and only 1g per 100g of tofu.

Tempeh is, however, more “fatty” with 11g against the 5g of tofu. Both foods are a source of potassium, iron, and calcium. 100g of tofu in particular contains about 1 6-17%of the recommended daily dose of calcium, while tempeh stops at 7%. The key difference, however, is in the presence of prebiotics, natural non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of bacterial flora in the intestine of which tempeh, unlike tofu, is particularly rich.

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