Chicken-Fried Tempeh Steaks with Mushroom-Shallot Gravy

This is a great recipe to try if you are new to vegetarian cooking. It is very similar to cooking traditional chicken-fried steak so if you are familiar with making that, then this will be a snap. And if you are not familiar with making chicken-fried steak, making this is still a snap. Tempeh is most commonly sold as a dense cake. It needs to be seasoned and cooked to combat the slightly bitter flavor it sometimes has. Pan frying takes care of most of this, but what it doesn't the velvety mushroom gravy does.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Tempeh steaks:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

Two 8-ounce tempeh cakes

1 cup canola oil

Mushroom Gravy:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large shallots, julienned

4 ounces cremini mushroom, sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 large sage leaves, chopped

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

2 cups mushroom stock, warmed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. For the tempeh steaks: Divide each tempeh cake in half, to create 4 pieces. Divide each of those four pieces through the center to create 8 thinner portions.
  3. Combine the flour, the garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons each of the salt and the pepper in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. In a second medium bowl, whisk the mustard and 1/2 cup of water.
  4. Sprinkle the tempeh on both sides with salt and pepper, and gently dredge in the flour mixture; dust off any excess. Now dip the tempeh into the mustard mixture, use a spoon to spread it evenly if needed. Return the steaks to the flour mixture a second time; again, shake off any extra flour. Place the tempeh on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  5. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F, or until it begins to ripple in the center. Add the steaks and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
  6. For the mushroom gravy: Add the olive oil to a medium skillet and heat it over medium. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, the sage, and the thyme, stir and cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flavor taste. Slowly whisk in the mushroom stock and continue to cook until the sauce simmers and thickens. The longer you cook the sauce, the more liquid is evaporated. Less liquid means a thicker sauce. When you have achieved the desired consistency, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top each tempeh steak with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the mushroom gravy and serve immediately!
  8. Carnivore version: Replace the tempeh with four 4-ounce cube steaks. You do not need to divide the steaks. Follow the directions for breading and frying, but reduce the cooking time to 2 minutes per side. 
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