By admin

The Timeless and Versatile Tempeh

Tempe—or tempeh—is a traditional Indonesian food that has its origins in the 12th or 13th century. Who invented this great dish is unknown but the story goes that it was accidentally discovered by a tofu manufacturer. Today, tempe is popular internationally and its claim to fame is mainly due to the nutrient richness and unique taste. Because it contains a lot of proteins, it is in high regard as a meat substitute among vegetarians.

Tempe is made by fermenting soybeans and injecting them with Rhizopus oligosporus (fungus) molds. The beans are usually spread into a thin layer and left to ferment for one or two days in warm temperature ranging between 25 to 30° celsius.

The health benefits are manifold—it is high in protein, in prebiotics and a myriad of vitamins and minerals. It is great for your digestive system thanks to its high fiber content. The fungi as a starting agent produce natural antibiotic substances which protect against harmful organisms.

Tempe is versatile and can be cooked, fried, steamed, seared, grilled, sautéed, just to mention a few methods. However, it should never be consumed raw. Fried tempe is the preferred cooking method in Indonesia where every province has its own fried tempe variety. Central Java, for instance, has Tempeh Mendoan—thinly sliced tempe that is coated with rice flour and a mixture of spices, served warm with its signature chewy texture, savory but with a hint of mild sweet taste. Recently, people have also started to grill cubed tempe as a substitute for chicken in Caesar Salad. Ground tempe can be used as a basic ingredient for meatless meatballs or patties for sandwiches. You see, the possibilities are many!

Our favourite is the tempeh manis that is also served in our Rijsttafel over lunch.
Here is the recipe for this delicious dish, we hope you will try it at home!

Ingredients
6g hot chili
100g shallots
15g garlic
70g red chili
10g galangal
600g tempe
20g canola oil for sautéeing
2.5g bay leaves
15g lemongrass stalk
2g kaffir lime leaves
75ml tamarind juice
40g white sugar
5g salt

Cooking method

  • Grind the spices into a fine paste using mortar or electronic blender.
  • Julienne the tempe and fry until crisp.
  • Pour canola oil into a large pan and wait until smokey, then sauteé the ground spices over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Add the bay leaves, lemongrass stalk, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind juice, and white sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and almost caramelized.
  • Add tempe and salt, mix well.
  • Best served right out of the pan paired with hot steamed rice and a drizzle of crispy shallots. It is recommended to remove bay leaves and lemongrass stalk before serving.
  • Enjoy!