Easy Vegan ‘Mongolian’ Tempeh Clusters

By Mieke

I’ll be perfectly honest, being part-Indonesian (read more about that here) and growing up on tempeh I was never a fan. As a kid it just seemed kind of bitter and awkward and I just couldn’t get into it.

Indorock to the rescue

That is, until I tested some recipes for Vanja van der Leeden’s Indorock. One of the recipes she had me test was for tempeh. Where others cut their tempeh into strips or battons, Vanja tears the tempeh into little clusters, then fries them until crisp before coating them in a delicious punchy peanut, lime, hot sauce that would inspire one of my favorite noodle recipes.

The clusters make for a much more interesting and exciting eating experience. So after testing the recipe I couldn’t stop eating tempeh for months.

Mongolian tempeh clusters

I really want to eat more tempeh so I was pondering other sauce options for tempeh clusters. Mongolian beef was one of the first things that came to mind. Interestingly enough, Mongolian beef isn’t Mongolian, but was born in Taiwan as an iteration of Chinese barbecue (though barbecue isn’t involved in this dish either) before making its way to the US. In Europe I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, though it might just go by a different name.

Because tempeh has some beefiness about it I ended up combining Vanja’s tempeh clusters with this Mongolian beef recipe from The Wok’s of Life. It’s a match made in heaven, if I do say so myself.

Have your Mongolian tempeh clusters with some rice and simple greens. And be sure to try the clusters with other sauces of your liking, I’m sure it’ll never disappoint.

Mongolian Tempeh Clusters - Vegan

Dorothy Porker
Combining Vanja van der Leeden's tempeh cluster technique with the wonderful flavors of Mongolian beef, courtesy of The Woks of Life, makes for a delicious and easy vegan main course.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Chinese American, Taiwanese, Vegan
Servings 2 - 4 people


  • Bowl or container
  • Wok or frying pan for shallow frying
  • Small bowl x2


  • 1/2 lb - 250 g tempeh
  • 1 T - 15 g corn flour
  • pinch MSG optional
  • 1/3 c - 80 ml neutral oil for shallow frying, I use sunflower
  • 2 T - 30 g brown sugar
  • 1/4 c - 60 ml warm water from the tap is fine, depending where you are in the world
  • 1/4 c - 60 ml soy sauce
  • 1 t - 5 g grated ginger fresh or store-bought
  • 5 small dried red chili peppers optional, 1 t of chili flakes for heat works as well
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 T - 15 g corn flour mixed with 1 T - 15 ml water
  • 2 scallions cut into 1" - 2.5 cm pieces


  • Crumble 1/2 lb - 250 g of tempeh into bite sized pieces into a bowl.
  • Coat the tempeh clusters with 1 T - 15 g of corn flour and a pinch of MSG, if using.
  • Heat 1/3 c - 80 ml of neutral oil in a wok or frying pan.
  • Add the tempeh clusters and leave them to sit for 5 minutes on a medium-high heat before turning them over, leaving them for 5 minutes again, turning them over, etc. until they are golden and crisp all over. Mess around with them too much and this will just take longer, so leave them be.
  • While you're not fucking around with the tempeh, mix together 2 T - 30 g of brown sugar with 1/4 c - 60 ml's of warm water and soy sauce each.
  • Once the tempeh clusters are golden brown and crisp all over, remove them from the wok or frying pan. Remove any remaining oil from the frying pan until you have roughly 1 T of oil left.
  • Move the pan back to a medium-high heat and add 1 t of grated ginger, 5 small dried chilies (if using) and 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic.
  • Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute or so, before adding the brown sugar, water, soy mixture.
  • Leave to cook for another 2 minutes. Remix 1 T - 5 g of corn flour with 1 T - 5 ml of water, add to the pan and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  • Add 2 scallions cut into 1" - 2.5 cm pieces and the crispy tempeh clusters, turn off the heat and toss until all the clusters are evenly coated in sauce.
  • Serve with white rice and greens.


Because you are tossing something crispy into something wet, at least from a texture perspective, this dish won't keep, so I recommend you finish it in one sitting.
Keyword Chinese American food, Mongolian beef, Mongolian tempeh, Taiwanese food, Tempeh, Woks of life

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