Originally from Indonesia where it has been eaten for more than 2,000 years, tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) is slowly gaining popularity in the United States. It is made of fermented soybeans or legumes that are bound together into a solid cake by a culturing agent like Rhizopus oligosporus (a type of fungus). Usually sold in blocks, tempeh is sliced thinly and can be steamed, fried or baked. It has a nougat-like texture and nutty flavor, and absorbs the flavor of whatever food it is being cooked with. For those reasons and its high protein content, it is often used as a meat substitute in a variety of dishes.
Tempeh can be purchased at Asian grocery stores, specialty organic stores, and sometimes in regular grocery stores (in the refrigerated section with tofu and noodles).