jerk tempeh with coriander (cilantro) sauce recipe

jerk tempeh

It's all too easy in this day and age to focus on the bad, sad and ugly reality of life that faces so many around the world. Obesity, diabetes, cancer and disease as well as genetically modified foods, additives and chemicals are catch phrases we are all too familiar with in the 21st century. But amongst all this sadness there are many inspiring people shining the light of hope, teaching and sharing all that they know and love in a bid to educate people to see a better, brighter way. 

On a whim a few months back I bought The Inspired Vegan, by Bryant Terry after Heidi mentioned his newly published book in one of her posts. Being from the bottom of the world I'd never heard of Bryant before, sad I know. But I have a feeling many of you are in the same boat so I'd like to introduce you to my new food hero... Chef. Author. Activist, Bryant Terry.

Reading through his book has stirred up so much passion inside of me, as I've been feeling the pull more and more since starting this blog to head down a very similar path as he has. It's a cookbook sure, filled with (for want of a better word), inspiring recipes made using simple honest ingredients and flavour combinations that will make your head pop; sparkling rosemary-grapefruit water, afro-asian jung with shoyu-vinegar-chilli sauce and gumbo zav anyone? But it's the book as a whole that I find so addictive. There's talk about sustainability, growing food organically, seasonal eating and more. Everything that I believe in and everything I love. Separated into menus inspired (there's that word again!) by 'family memories, social movements, unsung radical heroes, and visions for the future', it is more than just a cookbook. It's a statement. Each recipe has a suggested song and book to go with it and thoughtful, honest introductions. On that note, if you will, please press play below to start the suggested song before we get onto today's recipe. A slight adaption of Bryant's Jerk Tempeh with Cilantro (coriander) sauce.

Right, now that we are sufficiently in the mood, lets proceed.
Jerk tempeh, how cool is that? What's more commonly associated with chicken or pork and hailing from Jamaica, is here slathered as a wet mix over big slices of tempeh then bake in the oven until hot, juicy, and full of flavour. Coming from Memphis, Tennessee in Americas south-western corner, Bryant's use of bold flavours and spices are not ones that I'm overly familiar with, but as his wife is of Chinese decent (and my hubbys from Vietnam) the book is an amazing mix of African American soul food and Chinese simplicity, of which I totally get.

jerk tempeh
jerk tempeh

I've halved Bryants recipe as only Ada and myself love to eat food like this (boring boys of the family!), made a few minor substitutions to use what's available here in Australia and re-worded his recipe so it makes sense to my fellow down-under and Kiwi readers, but other than that this is all his work. In the book he serves the tempeh with a bright, fresh coriander (cilantro) sauce that cuts through the rich tempeh, as well as adding a little more sauce to go over the rice or quinoa in which it's served on top. I've left the sauce in it's original amounts, knowing full well how much I'd love it. It's also great over eggs, roast vegetables, stir-frys and salads should you find yourself with leftovers. And as always with dishes like this, the tempeh improves in taste if left to hang-out overnight in the fridge once cooked. It was insanely good eaten as left-overs the next day, re-heated gently in a pan and drizzled with the sauce over freshly cooked brown rice...

Love the book and love your work Bryant. The title of the book says it all. The Inspired Vegan.

jerk tempeh w/ coriander (cilantro) sauce

jerk tempeh with coriander (cilantro) sauce

Don't let the long list of ingredients put you off making this! It's incredibly fast to put together and most of the time spent making this it's just doing it's thing in the oven, un-attended. I served mine over brown rice, but any other grain would also be lovely. The coriander sauce is amazing and any leftovers will happily find a home over stir-frys, eggs, salads and roast veges. 
serves 3-4 with rice


  • 300g packet tempeh, sliced horizontally into 1cm strips
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 small spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Thai red chilli, de-seeded
  • 1cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • pinch dried chilli flakes or powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable stock or water

coriander (cilantro) sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • 1 jalapeño chilli
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
Preheat oven to 180C/350 F. Place the tempeh in a single layer in a small oven proof dish.

Place all the rest of the ingredients for the tempeh into and blender and puree. I left mine a little chunky, but you could blend for longer to achieve a smooth puree if desired. Pour mixture into a small pot and heat until just boiling. Pour over the tempeh, cover the dish with a lid (if it has one) or tinfoil (aluminium foil) and bake for 1 hour or until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, turning the tempeh once during cooking. Remove the lid/foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.
To make the coriander sauce place garlic, olive oil, ground coriander and salt into a small pan over medium heat. Cook for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant but not brown. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool to the touch, pour into a blender with the remaining ingredients and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve tempeh hot over cooked brown rice and drizzle with coriander sauce. Leftovers store well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Re-heat gently in a pan and serve over freshly cooked rice. Store coriander sauce in a screw-top glass jar for up to 5 days.

Adapted slightly from Bryant Terry's recipe in The Inspired Vegan (De Capo Press, 2012).

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-free

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  • Reply
    July 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Wow, looks great. I've had tofu in Chinese dishes as it's rarely available, rubbery and oil-filled every time sadly. Maybe I'll be brave and try it myself some time. 🙂

    • Reply
      Muffina Sparkle
      July 5, 2012 at 2:16 am

      Hi, I was wondering where I'd buy tempeh in Brisbane. I'd never heard of this food before reading your post, but it looks like an incredibly versatile ingredient and I'd love to try your adapted recipe.

    • Reply
      July 5, 2012 at 2:46 am

      Your local Asian store might be your best bet. They sometimes sell it frozen. Or just check out your local Coles. That's where I buy mine most of the time. Tempeh is amazing stuff and much better for you than other soy products like tofu. Good luck!

  • Reply
    July 5, 2012 at 5:21 am

    A friend made some tempeh a while back and it's been in the freezer waiting for me to locate a good recipe). I'm planning on making this dish tonight so may have to skip the thyme as I don't have any fresh. I do have fresh mint but can't imagine that would be a good substitute.

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    July 5, 2012 at 5:27 am

    This does sound fantastic, and I love the description of soul food and Chinese simplicity- what an awesome combination indeed!

  • Reply
    Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
    July 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Oh my goodness this looks and sounds so amazing – what in inspirational cookbook, I am going to have to check it out!

  • Reply
    Candy & Healthy In Candy Land
    July 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    This sounds as delicious as it looks! Such a beautiful presentation. I am just learning how to cook with tempeh properly (even though I've been cooking with it for a few years now!) 🙂 so I can't wait to give this a try.

  • Reply
    Mairi @ Toast
    July 8, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I think this book will have to go on the must have list…it sounds fascinating. I have never had tempeh before but I know that I would love that cilantro sauce on any number of things :0

  • Reply
    July 21, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I have had many tempeh failures over the years and had sort of given up on it. But this recipe made me want to try it again and I am so glad I did. The instructions were great and I was thrilled with the tasty result!!!
    Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Oh wow Emma – I've just made this for dinner and it is unbelievably delicious, so full of flavour! I think this is going to become a regular meal for me! Thank you!

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