Tips for cooking tempeh, the fermented soybean cake:
Introduce a liquid. Tempeh, especially the supermarket variety, can be on the dry side unless you marinate it, which also adds flavor. That marinade can become a simmer sauce or glaze. Or bake tempeh in a marinade for maximum absorption.
Break it down. Slice it crosswise into thin pieces or cut the block in half horizontally, to help flavors penetrate it and to increase the surface area that will get browned. Or crumble or grate it to approximate ground meat.
When pan-frying, go easy on the oil. Tempeh will absorb whatever you throw at it, so use only enough to keep it from drying out (and even then, resist adding very much) or it can get greasy. A nonstick or cast-iron skillet works best.
Don’t be afraid to deep-fry. Especially after you marinate it, frying tempeh (a traditional Indonesian technique) gives it a fantastic texture, inside and out. Make sure the oil is hot (365 degrees or so), and drain the tempeh on a cooling rack set over a paper-towel lined platter to keep it crisp.
Search for freshly made tempeh, then start by treating it simply: Thinly slice, fry and season with salt. That way, you can appreciate the unique flavors imparted by the artisan who made it and the particular beans and grains that were used.