Fakin’ the Bacon! Dee’s Tempeh Ruben Sandwich on Arbutus Bread

27 Feb

Are you about to ask “Why do vegetarians eat fake meat?”

This is a question that is often raised when there is a discussion about vegetarian food.  All meat-eaters should be asked in response, “Well, why do you eat meat?    The answer would more than likely be, because it tastes delicious.  O.K!  That being the case, then it is actually the cooked flavours of meat that meat-eaters like; roast, grilled, BBQ, charred.  I don’t think any person would say they want to eat raw meat, unless of course you live in France!  If you are a meat-eater ask yourself what is your favourite thing about bacon, is it the salty, smokey, maple flavour?  It probably is and the good news for vegetarians is  if you use natural products like Tofu, Tempeh or even Seitan these flavours can be easily replicated by marinating, using spice rubs and char-grilling.  I’m not saying it will be exactly the same, but in a sandwich or or as an ingredient in a meal dish all the flavours will be there.

I believe it is the flavours people want to replicate, not the meaty texture as such.  I think most meat-eaters would happily eat a tempeh bacon sandwich for instance if it tasted like bacon.  The maple, smoky flavour is easy to replicate at home!

What the heck is tempeh I hear you ask?  It’s basically cooked soybeans inoculated with a starter culture (like the type you would use in yoghurt or cheese) the soybeans ferment forming a solid block that you can cut and slice.  Tempeh gives you protein and fibre and beneficial bacteria.  Soybeans served this way are very easy to digest.  Tempeh has a firmer, more chewy texture than tofu.  If your tempeh tastes slightly bitter, I recommend boiling or steaming for 10 minutes first, as I do here.


1 block of tempeh


2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 teaspoon of soy sauce

1tsp of ground cumin

3 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp of chipotle chilli powder (if you have it)

1 tsp of marmite (optional)

If you can get your hands on some liquid smoke (add a teaspoon in too)

1 tsp of black pepper

1 clove of crushed garlic or 1 tsp of garlic powder








Simmer 1/2 the  tempeh block in boiling water for 10 mins, make up the marinade by mixing everything together.  Slice the tempeh into thin slices and pour the marinade on top.  Marinade for 1 hour at least and cook on a grill pan or under a grill until brown and crispy.

Assemble the sandwich by lightly spreading mayo on the bread (I like to mix some Sriracha into the mayo), place some lettuce leaves on top and add the Sauerkraut and gherkins.  Sauerkraut is a necessary ingredient in this sandwich, it is  fermented sliced cabbage that gives you loads of beneficial bacteria which is great for your digestion (especially if you are a vegan and don’t eat natural yoghurt)  Top this with your tempeh “bacon” and Enjoy!  Himself gave this the thumbs up, even though I will admit he was HIGHLY sceptical to start and wanted to put tuna on his sandwich instead : )

This recipe makes loads of “bacon” slices that you can store in the fridge for a couple of days, or store in the freezer for cooking.

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One Response to “Fakin’ the Bacon! Dee’s Tempeh Ruben Sandwich on Arbutus Bread”

  1. Paula Kuitenbrouwer March 7, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    I don’t think there will be leftovers, but just in case… pigs might welcome them.

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