This gochujang-braised tempeh recipe is an Instant Pot hit

Gochugang-Braised Tempeh Salad Wraps

Active time:25 min

Total time:55 min


Active time:25 min

Total time:55 min


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I have been on record in praise of tempeh, the fermented soybean cakes that are an integral part of my plant-based diet. Nutritionally, it is a superstar high in protein, fiber and probiotics. And when cooked properly, it has a nutty taste and a soft but dense consistency, so it fits seamlessly into preparations that normally require meat.

Let me repeat that qualification: “when cooked properly.” If you just pan fry a whole block of tempeh and season it with something other than salt and pepper, you end up with something dry and uninteresting. Add a little liquid, in the form of steam or a braising sauce, and the tempeh opens up, leaving it able to absorb flavors. It also becomes pleasantly soft, while retaining some chewing.

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It turns out that Instant Pot is a great way to cook it. (Is there anything IP can not do?) In this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen team, use the pan to braise it in a mixture containing gochujang, the Korean spicy-sweet chili paste, and then boil the sauce down until thick. enough to coat the tempeh pieces.

The dish is tasty enough to eat just like that, maybe with rice or noodles. But for something more festive, pair it with quick-pickled vegetables and wrap it all in leaves of Bibb or butter salad. The crispy, pickled pickles act as foils for the spicy tempeh, and the salad-wrap setup makes them fun to gather and eat, without the use of utensils.

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Make Ahead: The pickled vegetables can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before being cooked.

Storage notes: Store tempeh leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Refrigerate pickles for up to 3 days.

Where to buy: Gochujang can be found in many well-stocked supermarkets or in Asian markets.

  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into thin slices on the skew
  • 4 ounce (2 cups) bean sprouts
  • 4 spit bowl, trimmed and cut into thin slices
  • 4 teaspoons roasted sesame oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce with low sodium content
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely grated or pressed
  • 1 pound tempeh, halved lengthwise and cut across into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 heads Bibb salad (8 ounces each), leaves separated

Combine vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Microwave on HIGH until steaming, 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk to dissolve sugar. Add the cucumber and bean sprouts and let it stir occasionally for 30 minutes. Drain the vegetables and return them to the now empty bowl. Stir in the spit bowl, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of the ginger. Set aside until serving.

Meanwhile, whisk water, gochujang, agave or maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, the remaining oil and the remaining ginger together in the Instant Pot or another multicooker. Arrange the tempeh in as close to an even layer in the pan as possible and pour the sauce over the top of pieces that are not immersed. Lock the lid in place and make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESS (HIGH) and set the cooking time to 12 minutes. (It should take at least 10 minutes for the appliance to press.)

When the timer starts, release the pressure manually by moving the pressure release lever to “Ventilation”, cover your hand with a towel and make sure to keep your hand and face away from the vent when the steam escapes. Carefully remove the lid so that the steam can escape from you. Transfer the tempe to a serving dish.

Using the highest SAUTE function, let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Switch off the appliance. Pour the sauce over the temp, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve in lettuce leaves with the pickled vegetables. Serve hot.

Per serving (9 pieces of tempeh, 3 large lettuce leaves, with agave, without pickles)

Calories: 212; Total fat: 9 g; Saturated fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 391 mg; Carbohydrates: 20 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 9 g; Protein: 16 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Healthy and Delicious Instant Pot” of America’s Test Kitchen (2021).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to

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