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Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

My recipe for Thai Basil Tempeh and Firecracker Rice is the ultimate weeknight dinner. Save this recipe for the days you’re short of foodie inspiration. It’s perfect for using up a glut of leftovers in the fridge.

Not only is this aromatic wonder quick and easy to make, it’s also VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE and full of goodness from the veggies. As a result of using Tempeh, this recipe is super HIGH IN PROTEIN.

The rice

I like to use either cooked brown rice or jasmine rice for this. The important thing is that it’s COLD and not freshly-cooked rice. For example, leftover cooked rice is perfect for making great Firecracker Rice.

Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

Making the marinade for Thai Basil Tempeh

Firstly, whizz up loads of luscious, peppery Thai basil and fresh lemongrass. Next, add in the big umami player, for example soy sauce or tamari. A squeeze of lime juice brings all the flavours to life. Give your tempeh a nice little bath in this mixture and you’ll soon be on your way to vegan food paradise.

What is Tempeh?

Originally from Indonesia, Tempeh is a type of fermented soy bean cake. Cooked, whole soy beans are fermented into a firm block. This can then be cubed or sliced for use in stir-fries, salads and curries.

People often use the terms “Tempeh” and “Tofu” interchangeably, but they couldn’t be any more different. Tofu is made by curdling soy milk, whereas Tempeh is made by fermenting whole soybeans. These soybeans are visible all over the surface of the tempeh which is pretty awesome to look at.

Is Tempeh healthier than Tofu?

Tempeh has more protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins compared to tofu. It has a firmer texture and stronger flavour, due to the fermentation it undergoes. Plain, unmarinated Tempeh is low in fat and is less processed than tofu.

Since Tempeh is fermented, it balances the healthy bacteria in your gut. This can strengthen the immune system, keep you regular, and do wonders for your skin.

How do I cook Tempeh?

The block of Tempeh can then be sliced and marinated in the same way you cook with tofu. Grill it, bake it or barbecue it for best results.

People often use Tempeh to mimic bacon, chorizo, and other meat products. My favourite way is to simply marinate it in lots of Thai basil for this Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice.

What are alternatives for Tempeh?

If Tempeh is unavailable where you live, use firm tofu. Press it to remove excess water and slice into oblong pieces or cube it.

Seitan can also be used in place of Tempeh.

Ingredients you’ll need to make Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

  • Tempeh
  • Thai basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Lime
  • Neutral oil, such as sunflower
  • Leftover cooked rice (cold)
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Courgettes
  • French beans
  • Onions
  • Sesame seeds
  • Chillies
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Salt

How to Make Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

Time needed: 30 minutes

Here’s what you need to do to have this delicious, healthy meal on the table in 30 minutes!

  1. Marinate the Tempeh

    First, marinate the tempeh slices in the Thai basil and lemongrass paste. I use a high-powered blender to make the marinade but you can also use a pestle and mortar.

  2. Cook the Tempeh

    Pan fry or grill the Tempeh until golden on both sides. Set these aside.

  3. Get your stir-fry game on

    Stir-fry the aromatics, add the veggies and cook until slightly tender but still a little crunchy. Add the lime juice, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce. Next, fold in the cooked rice and stir-fry for a few minutes.

  4. Serve the firecracker rice

    Serve the rice with the cooked Tempeh on top.

Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice

Thai Basil Tempeh & Firecracker Rice – A mouthwatering combination of sweet and spicy flavours that tastes a million times better than a takeaway!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: lemongrass, rice, tempeh, thai basil, vegan, vegetables
Servings: 4
Author: Sanjana


  • Wok


For the Tempeh:

  • 200 g tempeh block sliced into 2cm-thick pieces
  • 50 g Thai basil leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari if GF
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp any neutral-tasting oil such as sunflower oil

For the Firecracker Rice:

  • 325 g cooked Jasmine rice or brown rice day old is best
  • 1 tbsp any neutral-tasting oil such as sunflower oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 4 hot red chillies slit lengthways
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 peppers (capsicums) sliced
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini) sliced into half moons
  • 100 g French beans trimmed and halved
  • 2 large red onions peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari if GF
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt


For the Tempeh

  • Blend the Thai basil, lemongrass, soy sauce (or tamari), lime juice, 1 tbsp of the oil and salt in a blender or small grinder. You may need to add a splash of water to help it along.
  • Coat the tempeh slices in the marinade. Cover and marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. You can also do this the day before and keep the bowl of tempeh covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the tempeh until golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. You can wrap it in foil to keep it warm.

For the Firecracker Rice

  • Heat the oil in a large wok. Add the garlic, chillies and sesame seeds. Stir-fry for a moment (don't let them brown) and then add the peppers, courgettes, French beans and onions. Stir-fry the veggies over a very high heat until slightly charred on the outside, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of water (about 50ml) water to the wok and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  • Tumble in the cooked rice, separating the grains with a wooden spoon.
  • Next, add the soy sauce, lime juice, sweet chilli sauce and salt. Toss well and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Pile the rice onto plates or scoop into bowls. Serve topped with the cooked tempeh.
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Psst, if you like this, you’ll LOVE this recipe for Easy Rendang Tofu & Broccoli Bowls.

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Sunday 8th of September 2019

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Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

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Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

Defiantly trying as daughter in law doesn't eat paneer n loves tofu thanks