Sesame Tempeh Bowls

It’s only been two days since the Vegetarian Challenge ended, but my stomach is already like, “Whoa girl, take it easy. I thought I told you before not to change things up so suddenly!” Fair enough, stomach. Here is some high-fiber bean-filled goodness to make it up to you. I saw that tempeh was on sale today, so I took the opportunity to make this recipe for Sesame Tempeh Bowls that I’ve had waiting in the wings. 

This is basically the same recipe as my Easy Sesame Chicken, but it’s even easier because I didn’t bother coating the tempeh in any sort of egg wash. Just a quick simmer in water to plump it up, then the sauce goes in, and you’re DONE. If you’re looking for the easiest of easy meal preps, this is it.

Sesame Tempeh Bowls

Two plates with Sesame Tempeh, rice, and broccoli, next to a colorful napkin

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a compressed cake of fermented soy beans. It sounds a little weird, but I promise it’s awesome. It has a fairly neutral taste (a slight bitterness, if anything) and it absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce you pour over top. It’s a fantastic source of plant-based protein, fiber, and other nutrients, and has a much more firm texture than tofu. Because it is more firm, I find it works better than tofu for stir fry.

Frozen Broccoli is My Friend

I used frozen broccoli florets for these bowls because they’re just so easy. I simply let them thaw and add them to the bowls. Frozen broccoli is blanched before freezing, so they’re already partially cooked. They’ll finish cooking when I reheat my meal prep. If you prefer to use fresh, simply steam or boil them for a few minutes, or just until al dente.

 
Sesame Tempeh Bowls being eaten with chopsticks
Print Recipe
4.78 from 9 votes

Sesame Tempeh Bowls

These Sesame Tempeh Bowls are a great vegan alternative to sesame chicken and only take about 20 minutes to make. An easy fast vegan meal prep! 
Keyword: easy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Total Cost: $6.74 recipe / $1.69 serving
Author: Beth M
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce ($0.24)
  • 2 Tbsp water ($0.00)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil ($0.33)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.12)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.10)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds ($0.08)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.2)
  • 8 oz. tempeh ($2.50)
  • 2 green onions, sliced ($0.11)
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice* ($0.70)
  • 1 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($2.26)

Instructions

  • Begin by mixing together the sesame sauce. In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, 2 Tbsp water, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, grated ginger, minced garlic, sesame seeds, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.
  • Cut the brick of tempeh into 8 squares, then cut each square diagonally into a triangle. Turn each triangle on its side and slice it in half so you have two thinner triangles. To achieve the proper tempeh to sauce ratio, you don't want thick pieces. 
  • Place the tempeh in a large skillet and add 1/2 cup water. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and let the tempeh simmer until all of the water evaporates (about 5-8 minutes). Flip the tempeh a couple times as it simmers.
  • Once the water has evaporated, turn the heat down to medium and pour in the sesame sauce. The skillet will still be quite hot, so the sauce may begin to thicken immediately. Stir the tempeh in the sauce until the sauce has thickened (1-2 minutes), then remove it from the heat immediately to prevent further evaporation and thickening.
  • To build the bowls, place one cup of rice in each dish, top with 1/4 of the sesame tempeh, 1/4 of the broccoli florets, and a sprinkle of green onion.

Notes

*You can sub brown rice or plain white rice if desired.
Tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Sesame Tempeh Bowls in meal prep containers

Sesame Tempeh Bowls being eaten with chopsticks

Step by Step Photos

Sesame Sauce

Begin by making the sesame sauce. In a medium bowl stir together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, about 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, and 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch. Stir them together until the cornstarch is dissolved, then set the sauce aside.

Cut Tempeh into Triangles

Cut the brick of tempeh into 8 squares, then cut each square diagonally into triangles…

Tempeh Triangles Cut in Half

Then turn each triangle on its side and slice it in half to make two thinner triangles. You want thin pieces to get the sauce to tempeh ratio right.

Simmer Tempeh in Water

Place the tempeh in a large skillet and add 1/2 cup water. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and let the tempeh simmer until all of the water is evaporated (about 5-8 minutes). Flip the tempeh a couple of times as it simmers. Simmering the tempeh makes it a bit more tender.

Add Sesame Sauce to Simmered Tempeh

Once the tempeh has simmered and all of the water has evaporated, turn the heat down to medium and add the sesame sauce.

Sesame Tempeh Front

The sesame sauce will begin to thicken as it heats, so stir the tempeh in the sauce for 1-2 minutes, or just until thickened. Remove the skillet from the heat as soon as it has thickened or else the water will continue to evaporate and the sauce will become too thick.

Finished Sesame Tempeh

Now you have delicious sesame tempeh that only took about 10 minutes!

Sesame Tempeh Bowls with rice and broccoli, and a colorful napkin

To build the bowls place one cup cooked rice in each dish and top with 1/4 of the sesame tempeh and the sauce. Add 1/4 of the broccoli florets on the side, and sprinkle a few sliced green onions over top. Finished!

Four glass meal prep containers full of Sesame Tempeh Bowls

I packed mine up in meal prep containers for the week! You can find these Pyrex 3-cup Rectangle Glass Meal Prep Containers in my Amazon Shop.