Not many East Bay vegans realize there's an artisan tempeh-maker in our own backyard. Oakland-based Rhizocali turns out homemade batches of the fermented soybean product — think of it as tofu's funky cousin — that even omnivores love. The tempeh buffalo bites might even be better than the chicken version. Unlike most soy products, which require lots of processing to render the protein-rich bean digestible, tempeh (invented in Indonesia hundreds of years ago) simply pairs cooked soybeans with the fungal culture rhizopus oligosporus to start fermentation. Rhizocali uses organic, US-grown soybeans, and keeps its tempeh fresh by selling it frozen. Popular eateries such as the Hella Vegan Eats and S+M Vegan Chefs use the savory protein in everything from tacos to vegan bacon. Available at Mandela Foods Cooperative, Vegan Republic, and Berkeley Bowl West, it's easy to start cooking with this flavorful yet adaptable bean cake.
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