August 4, 2021

Easy Rama-Style Tempeh

In college I was introduced to “swimming rama” at a local Thai restaurant that would quickly become a go-to for takeout during my college years. Steamed spinach and a cooked protein (my order then was chicken) smothered in peanut sauce and served over rice - it was easily one of my favorite meals.

As a lifelong lover of peanut butter, once I was introduced to peanut sauce, there was no looking back. Swimming rama and fresh rolls with extra peanut sauce for dipping are still reliable Thai restaurant take-out orders for me. When I discovered this amazing recipe for tempeh in peanut sauce a while back, it was like a dream come true to make a rama-style dish at home.

If you're not familiar with tempeh, tempeh is a plant-based protein source, traditionally made by fermenting cooked soybeans and then binding them into a firm, solid block. You may find modern variations of tempeh made with a variety of legumes and grains. Tempeh is not only high in protein, but also a good source of several minerals and B vitamins.

This Easy Rama-Style Tempeh comes together quickly, making it a great weeknight meal (seriously, 20 minutes or less!). The tempeh becomes tender by simmering in water for a few minutes, then gets coated in peanut sauce, and you add the spinach to cook just until it’s wilted. Pile it on top of cooked rice, and enjoy eating your fill of peanut sauce.

Ingredients assembled for Easy Rama-Style Tempeh
Assemble your ingredients.

Tempeh cut into half-inch cube on a cutting board
Cut tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes.

Peanut sauce whisked together in a mixing bowl
Whisk peanut sauce ingredients together.

Stages of cooking the tempeh, adding the peanut sauce, then wilting the spinach
Simmer tempeh in water to help it become tender. Stir in peanut sauce, coating all the tempeh pieces. Add in baby spinach leaves, cover, and allow spinach to wilt.

Easy Rama-Style Tempeh served in a stoneware bowl
Serve with cooked rice, and crushed peanuts and/or sweet chili sauce.

Inspired by “Saucy Stovetop Peanut Tempeh” by Caitlin Shoemaker of From My Bowl

Original publication date: April 15, 2021

Easy Rama-Style Tempeh

This Easy Rama-Style Tempeh comes together quickly, making it a great weeknight meal and a delicious way to eat your fill of peanut sauce.


Kira Freed - The Joyful Plateful











16 oz. tempeh

2 cups water, divided

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

4 Tbsp. tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)

3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves

Cooked rice, for serving

Crushed peanuts and/or sweet chili sauce, for serving (optional)


  1. Cut tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes. Add to a large skillet or cast iron pan with 1 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Simmer tempeh cubes for 5 minutes, uncovered.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine ingredients for peanut sauce: remaining 1/2 cup water, peanut butter, tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, garlic and ginger powders, black pepper, and sriracha (if using). Whisk to combine. (Tip: Microwave the 1/2 cup water for about 60 seconds before mixing in remaining sauce ingredients. The hot water helps incorporate the peanut butter.)
  3. After tempeh has simmered 5 minutes, add peanut sauce mixture to the pan, and stir to incorporate and coat tempeh pieces. (Do not drain the water!) Return to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and stir in spinach leaves. Cover, and keep on low heat for 5 minutes to wilt spinach.
  4. Serve rama-style tempeh over cooked white or brown rice, garnished with crushed peanuts and/or sweet chili sauce.
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