Can’t get enough Tempeh!

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Healthy Food Bali



For anyone who hasn’t heard of tempeh (or tempe in Indonesian), it is a traditional soy product that originally comes from Indonesia. I first came across it when I moved here, but I know these days it is slowly becoming available around the world.


Fresh Tempe in Bali

Bali Pasar (Market)


I’m vegetarian but I must admit I am not always the biggest fan of tofu, so finding another soy product here in Asia that I really enjoy and I could add to my diet was a life-saver! Like tofu it can be used in so many different recipes and cooked in many different ways and it quickly became my new favorite protein. 8 years later and I still love it just as much and eat it every few days. Actually I would go so far as to say that I am slightly addicted to the stuff. When I go to a nasi campur warung (see my blog about nasi campur posted on May 6th) I usually end up with tempeh cooked three different ways on one plate. I kid you not, I can’t get enough of it!
Tempeh is made from a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. The texture is quite different from tofu, it is firmer and has quite an earthy, nutty flavor. Because it retains the whole soybean it contains more protein, dietary fiber and vitamins than tofu. It is found and loved all over Indonesia and is a popular source of protein here due to it being much cheaper than meat.

Sliced Fresh Tempe Bali

Sliced Fresh Tempeh Bali


Around the world it is starting to be used as a meat substitute and a popular staple in vegetarian cuisines due to its nutritional content. I even came across it when I was in the States last year- thank God as I don’t think I could have lasted 5 weeks without it!

Tempeh can be prepared in a number of different ways, the simplest being cutting the tempeh into slices, soaking it in a salty solution and then frying it (tempe goreng). The crust becomes golden and the interior stays soft. This is a favorite snack in Indonesia, and is eaten with fresh whole small super spicy green chilies or with a spicy chili sauce (sambal). Many road-side carts appear around sunset selling this and other fried treats! I am often guilty of returning home with a delicious bag of fried tempeh and green chilies!


Bali Tempe Goreng (Fried)

Bali Tempeh Goreng (Fried)


Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone as a snack, or used in curries, stir-frys, soups, salads, sandwiches and even stews. Its texture means it is perfect for soaking up marinades and lots of cafes here in Bali offer a vegetarian alternative to the burger using marinated tempeh to make a patty instead.


Bali Tempe Curry

Bali Tempeh Curry


Another popular dish here in Indonesia made primarily with tempeh is “tempe manis” (sweet tempeh). It is beautifully simple, and the combination of small pieces tempeh cooked in palm sugar, with chilies and garlic is irresistible! The spicy caramel flavor soaking into each crispy tempeh piece is to die for. I nearly always have a scoop (or 2) of this at a nasi campur warung. (See  for the delicious recipe).


Bali Tempe Manis (Sweet)

Bali Tempeh Manis (Sweet)


The tempeh dish that for me deserves the number one position is “tempe penyet”. It is also one of the simplest and cheapest meals to buy here in Indonesia and is found at many street food stalls and warungs (simple local cafes). The cheap price certainly doesn’t mean it is lacking in flavor, quite the opposite, it is laden with spice! All it consists of is some slices of fried tempe served with a spicy chili and tomato sauce (sambal) alongside a portion of white rice and some raw cabbage, cucumber, green beans and lemony herbs that provide crunch and help to reduce the heat if your mouth starts to burn up from the chili sauce. Many places that serve tempe penyet give the option of having some fried eggplant with it too and I think this juicy vegetable compliments the nuttiness of the tempe and works with the chili sauce so well. I sometimes have a portion of green beans cooked with beansprouts, chili and garlic with it too as my favorite warung that I buy it from also sells nasi campur. If you are ever in  Seminyak, Bali check out the Lalapan Warung on JL. Plawa on the right going towards Sunset Road, named Warung Santai. It is a pretty basic, local warung but the food is authentic and delicious and the prices are local! See the photo below taken of their tempe penyet.


Bali Tempe Penyet

Bali Tempeh Penyet

For the full article visit Kate’s blog. See link Below.

Guest Contributor: Kate

Lived in Bali: Since 2005

Passions and Blog Topics: Vegetarian Food, Bali, Cooking

See more of Kate’s Articles:



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