Jamaican Me Crazy, Tempeh!

Summer is definitely in full swing! We’re going through a serious heat wave here in New England, making it nearly impossible to cook in the hot kitchen. So, to deal with this dilemma we thought, why not fire up the grill? Lately I’ve been really into tropical foods, so I decided to take on something new and make a Jamaican Jerk marinade. Spicy, sweet, and island-flavored. Perfect for summer grillin’!

Some key Jamaican flavors are rum, thyme, and allspice. Add in some lime juice, hot peppers, and green onions and you’re good to go!Jamaican Me Crazy Tempeh

If you’re not familiar with tempeh yet, then you really don’t know what you’re missing. It’s made of soybeans and sometimes mixed with rice or other grains. It’s more dense and ‘meaty’ than tofu, and much less processed. It also holds up great on the grill!

One thing I discovered about a year after I started cooking tempeh was that you should steam it prior to cooking. This is a very simple and easy step that will make a big difference to the final product. Just boil about 2 inches of water in a sauce pan and hang a metal colander over it with the cut up tempeh pieces inside (of course, if you have a steamer, which I don’t, you could just use that!). Just put a lid on it and let it steam for about 10 minutes. You will start to smell “bread baking”, and that’s how you know it’s done. This will do two things: for one, it will take away some of the natural ‘bitterness’ of tempeh, giving it a more mild flavor. Secondly, it will soften the tempeh so that it takes in the flavors of the marinade faster.

Other than that, all you need to do is marinate the tempeh for a few hours, throw it on the grill and enjoy! Stay cool out there! :)

Jamaican Me Crazy Tempeh and Veggies

Jamaican Me Crazy Tempeh3

Jamaican Me Crazy Tempeh and Veggies


  • 1 8oz Package Tempeh
  • Veggies of your choice (I used red onions, red peppers, and brussel; sprouts)
  • 3T Rum (I used maple whiskey because it’s what I happened to already have- turned out great!)
  • 2T and 3T Water, separated
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar of your choice. Malt is more typical, but you could also use apple cider or even white or balsamic.
  • 1/2 Cup of Ketchup
  • 5 Green Onions
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1-2 Chile Peppers (Jalapeño, Serrano, or Habanero)
  • 7-8 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme (remove the stems, leaving only the leaves behind)
  • 2T Vegetable Oil
  • 4tsp Allspice
  • 1.5tsp Nutmeg
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2tsp Black Pepper
  • 2tsp Sugar, Agave, or whatever sweetener you prefer
  • Optional: Lime slices for serving.


  1. Chop the tempeh into strips or triangles and steam it (directions are explained above).
  2. Wash and chop the veggies.
  3. Heat the rum and 2T of water in a small pan at medium temp. Let it boil for a few minutes, then remove from the heat.
  4. In a food processor: Add the rum/water mixture, the additional water, vinegar, ketchup, garlic, oil, spices, salt, pepper, and sugar (leave out the chiles, green onions, and thyme for now).
  5. Process a few times so that it’s fully mixed.
  6. Add the chiles, onions, and thyme: process for a few minutes, finely chopping the veggies, but without turning them into a paste.
  7. Pour the marinade over your prepped tempeh and veggies.
  8. Let the mixture marinate overnight in the fridge (or at least for 4-5 hours).
  9. Fire up the grill and throw ’em on!
  10. The rest is up to you, my friend.

Makes enough marinade for the tempeh (approx. 2 cups). I ended up making two batches: one for the tempeh and one for all my veggies.

Note: This would be great as kebabs, also. I served mine over brown rice with a little of Annie’s Goddess Dressing on the side for dipping.

Jamaican Me Crazy Tempeh


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