Indonesian crispy fried tempe/tempeh (soybean cake) sticks with a delicious coating of spicy kecap manis sauce. Vegan and gluten-free.
Many Indonesian tempeh dishes start by deep-frying tempeh slices until golden brown and crispy, then further dress with a choice of sauce or dressing. In this tempeh kecap recipe, the said sauce is a delicious, thick, sweet, and spicy sauce with kecap manis as the main ingredient. This is a great introductory recipe to prepare tempeh, and it just happens to be vegan-friendly and gluten-free too.
What is Indonesian tempeh?
Tempeh (we actually spelled it as “tempe” in Indonesia) is a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. Most tempeh in Indonesia is wrapped and sold in banana leaves, though in the US, almost every tempeh that I have seen in the groceries is sold in a vacuum packed plastic packaging.
Where can I buy tempe/tempeh?
Once upon a time, many decades ago, if you ask people where you can buy tempeh, you will draw a blank look. Nowadays, it is so much easier to find tempeh. From my experience, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s almost always have these in their stores. Health food stores, vegan stores, organic stores, and Asian/Chinese markets also often stock tempeh. You can even place an online order for fresh tempeh if you want to.
How to make your own homemade tempe/tempeh?
Tempeh is one of the easiest things to make yourself, you only need three ingredients:
- tempeh starter
- distilled white vinegar
You can learn how to make your very own homemade tempeh with my super detailed guide. Of course, if you are currently in Indonesia, you can simply go to pretty much any wet market, or any supermarket, and buy fresh tempeh at any time. :)
How do you eat tempeh?
The easiest and best way to enjoy a freshly made tempeh is, in my opinion, a simple pan-frying with salt. I can eat tempeh like this every single day and won’t ever get sick of them. But in this recipe, I am going to show you how to prepare and cook tempeh into a delicious Indonesian dish called tempeh kecap, using super common Indonesian sauce, called kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce).
How to prepare and cook tempeh
Your typical tempeh comes in a block, rather like tofu. So the first thing to do is cut the block of tempeh into matchsticks. If you don’t like the matchsticks (baton) shape, you can also cut into thin slices, about 1⁄8-inch thick.
Next, prepare a pot of hot oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot (~ 170 Celsius/340 Fahrenheit), deep fry the tempeh sticks/slices until crispy and golden brown. Use a spider strainer (or a slotted spoon) to remove tempeh from hot oil, and drain over a wire rack to remove excess oil.
How to prepare the spicy kecap manis sauce
The next part is to prepare the spicy kecap manis sauce, which is super easy. Sauté spice paste and all the other herbs (except chilies) until fragrant, then the chilies until wilted. Add the fried tempeh along with salt, palm sugar, and of course, the kecap manis. Once the tempeh pieces are fully coated, it’s done! ♥ Not too difficult, right? :)
Other tempeh recipes for you to try
If you love tempeh, you may want to try some of these recipes too:
- fried tempeh with chili sauce
- kering tempeh - fried tempeh with sweet and spicy glaze
- tempeh goreng lengkuas - fried tempeh in galangal sauce
- tempeh mendoan - deep fried tempeh with spiced batter
- tempeh penyet - spicy bruised tempeh
- tempeh sambal kemangi - fried tempeh in basil chili sauce
- steak tempeh
- tahu tempeh bacem
Tempeh Kecap - Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce
4.9 from 11 reviews
Author: Anita Jacobson
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
- 300 gram tempeh, cut into matchsticks
- 1 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), bruised and knotted
- 2 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
- 2 red chilies (Indonesian: cabe merah besar), thinly sliced diagonally
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
- 3 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis), either from Bango or ABC
- oil, for deep frying and for sautéing
- Grind the following into spice paste
- 50 gram shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah)
- 3 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
- 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas)
- Heat enough oil in a frying pan for deep frying. Deep fry tempeh until golden brown, drain on wire rack/paper towel.
- Remove almost all the oil from the frying pan, and leave about 2 tablespoon of oil. Sauté spice paste, lemongrass, and bay leaves until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add red chilies and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Return the fried tempeh to the pan, season with salt, palm sugar, and sweet soy sauce. Toss/stir until the tempeh pieces are fully coated with the sweet soy sauce. Turn off heat and serve immediately with steamed white rice.