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tempeh fish tacos

This creation is all John Diemer everybody! I put him to the task of hosting his own RECIPE?! episode for Valentine’s Day, since he should obviously be making dinner for me right? Watch the recipe develop from scratch with whatever was in our fridge in our latest video here.

We figured we would give you the recipe John did, but know that we haven’t perfected it and we feel it does need one other go to ensure it’s accurate, BUT you always ask anyway… so here it is!

If you’re looking for something similar and completely perfected check out the filet-o-tempeh sandwich in the debut hot for food cookbook!


tempeh fish taco_ hot for food
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tempeh fish tacos

Keyword fish tacos, tacos, tempeh, vegan tacos
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Refrigerate 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10 tacos
Author Lauren Toyota


tempeh "fish" ingredients:

  • 1 pkg tempeh thawed, if frozen
  • 1/3 C white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 C water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 C + 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C + 1/8 C corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper or ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 C very cold club soda or beer of your choice
  • 3 C vegetable oil for frying

jalapeño tartar sauce ingredients:

  • 1 C vegan mayonnaise
  • 8-10 pickled jalapeños finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brine from jalapeños

kale slaw ingredients:

  • 1 C finely chopped kale
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 C yellow pepper  finely chopped
  • 1/2 C tomato  finely chopped
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • ground pepper to taste


  1. Slice the tempeh into 1 1/2 inch sticks and then cut those pieces in half so you have more of a nugget.
  2. In a dish combine white wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp old bay seasoning, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/4 tsp white pepper together. Submerge the tempeh in this mixture and let it sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the kale slaw and jalapeño tartar sauce before you get deep frying so you can eat the tempeh "fish" while it's hot!
  4. Massage lime juice into finely chopped kale and combine with remaining ingredients in a bowl. For the tartar sauce, stir together vegan mayonnaise, pickled jalapeños, and brine and refrigerate the sauce until ready to serve.
  5. In a deep pot heat your oil to 375 F and prepare your flour dredge and the batter.
  6. In one bowl combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/8 cup corn starch, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/4 tsp white pepper together. This is the first dredge for the tempeh sticks.
  7. In another bowl combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp each of paprika and old bay seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/4 tsp each of sea salt and white pepper. You will add the club soda or beer to this mixture right before frying so make sure your oil is at the right temperature before you mix this together.
  8. Take a couple pieces of tempeh from the vinegar marinade and dredge through the flour/corn starch mixture until well coated. Then dunk into the batter and get it well coated.
  9. Gently place these pieces into the hot frying oil and let fry for 3-4 minutes until the batter is a deep golden brown colour. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tempeh pieces onto paper towel and continue frying 2-3 pieces at a time until they're all battered and cooked. Don't over crowd the fryer as the pieces will stick together. To prevent sticking just watch them as they first go into the fryer and keep them apart with the slotted spoon or a fork while frying.
  10. Assemble tacos on tortillas of your choice and serve immediately! The tempeh fish sticks are even good on their own with the tartar sauce and slaw too!


  • Abra Alexander 3 years ago

    I’m really interested in this recipe, did you ever ‘perfect’ the flavor?

  • Alejandra Talamantes Ramirez 3 years ago

    Made these today! they tasted great! but I ended up just using a tempura batter style! thanks for the recipe!

  • Lexi 3 years ago

    Where do you find tempeh? I live in Calgary and haven’t seen it at the superstore I go to.

    • Lauren Toyota 3 years ago

      it is a little hard to find. Tofurkey makes a brand that is already seasoned and sliced. You might find that but it wouldn’t work for this particular recipe. You probably need to check a health food store. Do you have a Nutters? Or something? I’ve been to Nutters in Canmore but didn’t know if it was in Calgary too. Or WHole Foods?

    • Jessica Hummel 2 years ago

      I live in Calgary and the shawnessy location now sells it on the top shelf by the free range eggs and stuff in the health food aisle. You definitely have to be searching for it because it is quite hidden. They also carry it at all the Plant Organic locations as well as the health food store by Chinook station.

  • Ellen 2 years ago

    This is an amazing recipe for fish tacos! My husband gave it 7.5 out of 10 (he would have given the same to filet mignon back when we weren’t vegan; it’s a high rating for him). By the time, we were done, he upped it to an 8! I give it 10/10.

    Two things are working really well here. One is the mix of flavors, of course. The tangy yet sweet kale slaw and the jalapeno tartar sauce goes so well with the subtle flavors in the "fish." The other thing I think you nailed is the textures. The tempeh is a perfect stand-in for fish; the texture is right and the flavor is mild. I don’t usually deep fry, but I did for this and I am glad I did. The crunch of the coating, along with the slickness of the cornstarch coating the tempeh underneath the fried batter was just like eating fried fish. YUM!

  • Stephanie Barnscher 1 year ago

    Great recipe! Made this tonight using seitan instead of tempeh (mostly because I didn’t read the recipe closely enough) but it turned out great! 10/10 would eat again and defo feed to non-vegans!

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