Spicy Stir-Fried Tempeh with Basil


Recipe from “A Spoonful of Ginger” by Nina Simonds (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

Tempeh is definitely the food of the future; it is extraordinarily nutritious and is often recommended in Asia for frail people. Also, along with other soy products, it is believed to be especially effective in preventing cancer and heart disease.


1 1/2 pounds soy tempeh, cut into slices 1/2-inch thick and 2 inches long, then cut diagonally in half

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons (expeller-pressed) canola oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh red chile, ends trimmed and seeds removed
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into thin julienne slices

Sauce (mixed together):
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups fresh Thai holy basil or sweet basil leaves, stems removed, rinsed, drained and coarsely shredded


1. Put the tempeh in a bowl, add the Marinade, and mix to coat. Marinate 20 minutes.

2. Prepare a medium-hot fire for grilling or heat a heavy skillet for searing. Arrange the tempeh 3 inches from the source of heat and grill about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Alternatively, you may sear the tempeh on each side for 2 to 3 minutes in 1 teaspoon of hot oil. Remove, let cool slightly, and cut on diagonal into thin slices.

3. Heat a wok or skillet, add the oil and heat until very hot, about 30 seconds. Add the Seasonings, and stir-fry about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the onions are tender, tossing over high heat. Give the premixed Sauce another stir and add to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add the cooked tempeh and fresh basil; baste the tempeh with the sauce. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with rice and a vegetable, if desired.

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