Food by VICE

Filet-o-Tempeh Sandwich Recipe

Your favorite fast food fish sandwich, but vegan.

by Lauren Toyota
Mar 26 2018, 1:00pm

Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 4
Prep time: 35 minutes, plus 30 minutes to 6 hours for marinating
Total time: 8 minutes


for the tartar sauce:
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle and 2 teaspoons pickle brine
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

for the beer-battered tempeh:
1 brick (8 ounces|225 grams) tempeh
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup cold vegan-friendly lager or ale

for the sandwiches:
4 whole wheat, sprouted, or sesame seed buns
tartar sauce
2 cups packed sunflower sprouts or shredded iceberg lettuce
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, quartered, and sliced


1. Make the tartar sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or jar and refrigerate until using. Consume within 7 days.

2. Marinate the tempeh: Slice the brick of tempeh in half and slice each half lengthwise so you have 4 thin fillets.

3. Combine the water, vinegar, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the Old Bay, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a shallow dish and submerge the tempeh fillets in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Do not leave them longer than that or they may be too soft to handle without breaking.

4. When you are ready to fry the tempeh, add the vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer and heat to 350°F or as high as 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

5. To make the batter, put 1/4 cup of the flour in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup flour, remaining teaspoon salt, remaining teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper with the baking powder and paprika. Leave out the beer until the oil is hot enough to fry.

6. Take each tempeh fillet from the marinade and dredge through the flour, getting all sides well coated.

7. When you’re ready to fry, gently stir the beer into the flour and spice mixture. Don’t stir too much, as you want air in the batter.

8. Coat a fillet in the beer batter and put it directly into the hot oil. You’ll probably need to do 1 fillet at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook for 2 minutes, flipping the fillet after 1 minute, until golden brown.

9. Using a slotted frying spoon, remove the fried tempeh fillet to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. This will help keep the fillets crispy while you continue frying. Laying them on paper towels could make the fillets soggy. Make sure the oil is still between 350°F and 365°F before frying another fillet.

10. To assemble the sandwiches, cut the buns in half and toast, if desired. Spread some tartar sauce on the bottom half of each bun, then add the sprouts, a fillet, avocado slices, and more tartar sauce on top.

11. These are best consumed right after frying, but leftover fried fillets can be refrigerated and consumed within 4 to 5 days. Warm the fillets over medium-high heat in a pan or in a preheated 375°F oven. However, they might not get as crispy as when you first fried them.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe has been reprinted with permission of the author from her book, Hot For Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face.