The first time I introduced tempeh to my family and friends here in New Zealand was at one occasion way back two or three years ago. I thought they would not eat them, but to my surprise, they kept coming to the table for more and kept asking me what it was. Many of them have heard about tempeh but only a few have actually eaten it.
It is probably not an item every Western household would keep in the fridge, but I am sure it is well known to vegetarians as well as tofu. They are made from the same beans but treated differently. Tempeh is more like a cake of cooked whole soybeans which then is fermented using a tempeh starter or an agent, rhizophus.
My late grandmother used to make tempeh herself and sold them in the market. Like many Javanese people, she was a hard worker. She had to make a living because my grandfather was way long, long gone before I arrived in the world. I was told he was died in a battle when Indonesia was in the war with the Japanese.
Making tempeh is practically time consuming when you do it traditionally, although today this can be adapted by sophisticated machinery a Western household may have. My grandmother was doing it by hands: she rinsed the soy beans, left it overnight, then the next early morning she would start splitting the beans before cooking them. She would then stroll along the garden and chuck out some of the finest banana leaves from her backyard. Her favourite seat was on a little hut she built herself when she was having a rest. I would be sitting there with her and helping her splitting the banana leaves to a certain size wide enough to wrap the tempeh. We would come back and she worked on the tempeh while I was watching her. I was too small to be involved in tempeh wrapping, she said. She was spoiling me but I didn't buy that. She would then give me a little bit of her fermented soy beans and let me wrap mine. It was the smallest tempeh of all.
Susan of Food Blogga announces Beautiful Bones event to raise awareness for osteoporosis. I am cooking tempeh as an entry for this event. The nutritional facts about tempeh: high in protein, and its content of isoflavones is excellent for your health. On the list of 100g tempeh, look how much calcium, phosphorus, and potassium are provided on this nutritional facts list.
Tempe Goreng Tepung (Fried Tempeh in Batter)
In New Zealand, you can find organic tempeh from any leading supermarkets or health stores. Tofu Shop in North Shore might have it as well. I like using celery leaves because they highly contain of Vitamin C, potassium and calcium as well.
1 block tempeh, quartered and then sliced thinly,
1 cup Healtheries Gluten-Free Simple Baking Mix (or you can use ordinary flour),
1 tsp ground turmeric,
1 small garlic clove,
1 tsp coriander seeds,
2 Tbs chopped celery leaves,
salt to taste,
water, enough for mixing,
rice bran oil for deep frying
Crush the coriander seeds with a pinch of salt and garlic in the mortar and pestle until it's smooth (you can use ground coriander for no fuss—I just like using fresh coriander seeds for more fresh flavour). Put the flour in a medium bowl. Mix in the coriander and garlic paste into the flour. Pour some water to make a thick paste. Add water to thinning a little bit, but not making the batter too runny. Mix in the chopped celery leaves. Heat the oil until hot although not smoky hot. Dip the thinly sliced tempeh in the batter, and deep fry until golden brown on each side. Serve warm. Makes 16.
Another recipe for tempeh: Sambal Tempeh (Fried Tempeh with Sweet Soy Sauce)