Crispy Sesame-Lime Tempeh with Coconut Curry

published Jan 21, 2020
Crispy Sesame-Lime Tempeh with Coconut Curry

If you've never cooked with nutty tempeh before, you’ll want to give this flavor-drenched, veggie-packed curry a try.


Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’ve never cooked with tempeh before, you’ll want to give this flavor-drenched, veggie-packed curry a try. The nutty, chunky texture of tempeh is perfectly complemented by dousing it in a flavorful marinade and baking it, producing a bit of crust without the mess and oiliness of frying.

You’re going to make extra sesame-lime tempeh slices, because — I promise you — you will be snacking on them as they cool on the pan. Stirring the nutty, chewy tempeh into a creamy, lightly-spiced coconut milk curry at the last minute keeps the flavors a little more distinct and the crispness of the tempeh intact as it bathes in the lush sauce.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Crispy Tempeh Bites Are the Versatile Plant-Based Protein You Need

The bonus is that this is actually two recipes in one. Make the sesame-lime marinated tempeh and if you stop right there, you have a prepped protein ready to serve in sandwiches, bowls, stir-fries, or simply out of hand. It’s that good. The dark sesame oil gives the tempeh a slightly smoky, nutty boost of flavor, as well as keeps it from sticking to the pan. Lime juice cuts through the earthy, mushroomy flavors to elevate them to almost meaty levels.

 If you’re tempted to skip the steaming step, don’t — it keeps the tempeh from drying out. You can also marinate the tempeh overnight, to let it soak up a little more of the juicy marinade. Once you’ve tried this Indonesian-inspired flavor profile, you can always swap sesame oil for a flavorful extra virgin olive oil, or an infused oil that takes the tempeh in a more Mediterranean direction, then complement that by swapping lime juice for balsamic or red wine vinegar.

The curried vegetables are absurdly delicious, thanks to ample amounts of shallots, garlic, ginger, and sunny yellow turmeric. The level of heat is safe enough for a broad audience, and chili lovers can always boost it with an extra sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

Crispy Sesame-Lime Tempeh with Coconut Curry

If you've never cooked with nutty tempeh before, you’ll want to give this flavor-drenched, veggie-packed curry a try.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


For the tempeh:

  • 1 pound


  • 1

    large lime

  • 3 cloves


  • 1/4 cup

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 3 tablespoons

    toasted sesame oil

For the rice and curry:

  • 1 cup

    basmati rice

  • 8 ounces

    green beans

  • 2 cups

    fresh spinach

  • 4

    medium shallots

  • 4 cloves


  • 1 (2-inch) piece

    fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon

    coconut or avocado oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground turmeric

  • 1 (14 to 15-ounce) can

    coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 2 teaspoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    tamarind paste

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh cilantro leaves

  • For serving: chopped roasted peanuts, lime wedges, hot sauce


  1. Make the tempeh: Prepare a steamer. Cut 1 pound tempeh into 16 thin slices and steam for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the marinade. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Juice 1 large lime, then transfer 2 tablespoons of the juice to a shallow baking dish that will just hold the tempeh in a single layer. Mince 3 garlic cloves and add to the baking dish. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari and 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, and whisk to combine.

  3. Add the cooled tempeh to the marinade and flip to coat. Let marinate at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature, flipping the tempeh occasionally. Transfer the tempeh to the baking sheet and drizzle any leftover marinade over the tempeh.

  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the tempeh and bake until the tempeh is light browned, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the tempeh to a wire rack to cool. Cut half of the tempeh into bite-sized pieces, and reserve the remaining for another use.

  5. Make the rice and curry: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add 1 cup basmati rice and return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook undisturbed until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and aromatics.

  6. Cut 8 ounces green beans into 1-inch pieces. Coarsely chop 2 cups spinach. Mince the following aromatics, adding them to the same bowl: 4 medium shallots, 4 garlic cloves, and peel and mince 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger until you have 2 tablespoons.

  7. When the rice is ready, remove from the heat. Fluff with a fork and cover to keep warm.

  8. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut or avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots, garlic, and ginger, and cook until the pan starts to sizzle and the shallots soften. Add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, and cook for 1 minute.

  9. Stir in 1 can coconut milk, 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon tamarind paste. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low gently simmer for 5 minutes.

  10. Stir in the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and chopped tempeh and cook the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Garnish the curry with 1/4 cup cilantro leaves. Serve on top of the rice, with chopped peanuts, lime wedges, and hot sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The baked tempeh slices can be made up to 4 days ahead and refrigerated.

Storage: The tempeh and curry can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.