Sunday, May 26, 2024

Tempe Orek (Indonesian Spicy Fermented Soy Beans)

Fermented soybeans, known as tempeh or tempe, are a fantastic meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans. Packed with health benefits, tempeh is a staple in local Malay and Indonesian dishes. I'm a huge fan of tempeh and use it all the time in my cooking, especially because I love Malay and Indonesian food. You’ll often find me at Malay stalls, loading up on their delicious offerings.


Today, I'm featuring a tempeh dish - an Indonesian recipe that's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Let me share my passion for tempeh and show you how to incorporate it into your savory dishes.

Sambal Dish

Add tempeh into your sambal dish after giving it a light fry, or include it in a chili-based gravy (Ikan Balado). You can also toss in some dried anchovies or ikan bilis, known as teri in Indonesia, if you like.

Masak Lemak
Tempeh is great in Masak Lemak (Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak). You can substitute tofu with tempeh or use both. Did you know tempeh can also be added to the Indian coconut milk stew, Sodhi (Malaysian Sodhi) which is similar to Masak Lemak? Whether you’re making a vegetarian or non-vegetarian Masak Lemak, tempeh fits right in.

Fried tempeh is perfect for Gado-Gado, alongside other items, paired with Kuah Kacang or spicy peanut sauce.

Try stir-frying tempeh with Kacang Botol, also known as winged beans.

You can even pan-fry tempeh and add it to your salad.

Simply Fried Tempeh
When I really crave tempeh, I slice it, add turmeric powder and salt, and fry it until crispy. Don't you agree, tempeh lovers? Simply fried tempeh is simply the best! It's often paired with an Ayam Penyet rice set meal at eateries, making it a delicious and satisfying choice.

Tempeh for Indian Meals

How about pairing tempeh stir-fried with shallots, turmeric powder, and turmeric leaves, alongside Indian lentil curry, leafy veggie stir-fry, and tofu sambal? Have you tried this combination for an Indian vegetarian meal?

There are endless ways to use tempeh - why not get creative and come up with your own dishes? Don’t just follow what others say; explore and enjoy the versatility of tempeh.   

Now, it's time to unveil our Tempe Orek recipe. This Indonesian dish is a vegetarian version (Mee Rebus Vegetarian) my own creation, and I can’t wait to share it with you.



1 packet tempeh/fermented soybean, cut into squares (size as per your liking)

Red chilies (to taste), sliced

Green chilies (to taste), sliced

Bird's eye chilies (optional or to taste), sliced

6 garlic cloves, sliced

5 shallots, sliced

½ inch galangal, smashed/bruise

2 bay leaves

Sweet thick soy sauce, as needed

Salt, to taste

Oil, as needed



Fry the tempeh in heated oil until golden brown. Dish out and set aside. Reduce the amount of oil in the pan.

Sauté the chilies, garlic, shallots, galangal, and bay leaves in the remaining oil until fragrant.

Pour in the sweet thick soy sauce.

Add the fried tempeh and stir to coat evenly.

Add salt if needed.

Stir fry for a few more minutes, then dish out and serve.


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