Tempeh Cakes with Dipping Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    little cakes, enough for a light entree for 4

Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

Serve these little protein-rich cakes with Braised Kale, Carrots, and Shiitake Mushrooms for a lovely dinner. The leftover dipping sauce from this dish goes wonderfully with a vegetable stir-fry or as a salad dressing.



  • 1 8-ounce package organic tempeh, cut into 10 cubes
  • 4 cloves organic garlic, sliced
  • 4 organic scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium organic jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 organic lime
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped organic cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon organic canola oil, plus additional ¼-½ cup for pan-frying the cakes
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic all-purpose flour, divided


  • cup plus 1 tablespoon organic rice vinegar
  • cup organic low-sodium tamari
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed organic lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. To prepare the cakes, bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the tempeh cubes and boil for 5 minutes, then drain. When the tempeh is cool enough to handle, chop the cubes into small pieces. Place the chopped tempeh in a bowl. Add the garlic, scallions, jalapeño, lemon and lime zest, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, 1 tablespoon of canola oil, and a little sea salt and white pepper. Stir to combine. Turn this into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for about 25 seconds, or until the mixture is completely blended and nearly smooth. Turn this into a bowl.
  2. Stir in ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour and mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning. Let rest for 15 minutes to absorb some of the flour and make it easier to handle. Place the remaining ½ cup of flour on a plate. Set a large plate next to the other plate. Measure a heaping tablespoon of the tempeh mixture into your hand. Using your other hand, gently pat the mixture into a small cake, about 2 inches. The mixture will be soft, so handle it gently. Carefully dredge both sides of the cake into the flour, gently shaking off any excess flour, then set the floured cake on the empty plate. Continue until you have formed all the cakes.
  3. Place another large plate by the stove. Heat ¼ cup of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop a pinch of flour into the oil; if it sizzles, you can begin frying the cakes. Arrange as many cakes as you can in the skillet without crowding so it will be easy to turn them. Fry for about 1½ minutes or until the underside is golden brown, then turn and cook the other side for about a minute. Transfer to the plate. Continue frying the remaining cakes, heating additional oil if needed.
  4. To make the dipping sauce, measure the sauce ingredients into a bowl. Stir to combine. Use immediately and store leftover dipping sauce in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  5. Serve the tempeh cakes immediately or at room temperature, with dipping sauce. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, then served chilled or at room temperature.

“The first time I arrived on campus, I stumbled upon a cool-looking place to get a cup of coffee: Claire’s. Little did I know what a positive impact this special place would have on my time at Yale and beyond. Claire’s quickly became my respite to celebrate personal and academic achievements as well as to “drown my sorrows” ... in a cup of hazelnut coffee and, of course, a slice of that legendary Lithuanian Coffee Cake (always with frosting)! I completed my college thesis largely at Claire’s at the middle table looking out on the Green. And here I am today, twenty—three years later and still at the same table. I live in Boston now but travel back to Yale periodically. And no trip is complete or possible without going to Claire’s. Today the Lithuanian Coffee Cake/hazelnut coffee combination brings me back to that twenty-something-year-old guy, and I am instantly reminded that life is great!”

Dennis Pardo, Yale Class of 1988