Kering Tempe

I still remember my first time eating tempeh. Ten years ago I was in Yogyakarta, in a small family restaurant with a friend of mine. We had heard of tempeh, and when the waitress told us it was available, we jumped at the chance of trying some. I immediately fell in love with its complex and unique taste.

Back in Finland, my first shot at cooking tempeh was not very successful. Fortunately I had that great first experience tasting it, so I didn’t give up on it. Unless you’re really used to its strong, often overpowering taste, it can be a tricky thing to cook. Fortunately, there’s a very simple way to cook it – the way I had it the first time.

Tempe goreng

Kering tempe is Indonesian for dry or crispy tempeh. Most of the recipes in the internet that go with that name also make a spice mixture with fried onions, which is mixed with the tempe before serving, but I’m partial to a version where the tempeh is simply eaten as it is, without any garnishes.

Here’s what I use:

  • 1 dl oil (per frying pan)
  • 250 g tempeh, cut into 3 mm thick slices
  • salt to taste

I start by heating oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Using two pans makes the whole process a bit quicker, but (obviously) uses up more oil. Then I fry the tempeh slices on both sides, maybe about 3-5 minutes per side, but this depends on how hot the oil gets. It’s really easy to burn the tempeh, so I check the undersides often. The tempeh slices are ready when they are golden brown and feel crisp and hard in the middle when touched with a spatula. If they’re still soft, even just a little bit in the center, they are not ready yet!

After frying I put the slices on a kitchen towel to drain off the extra oil, and add the next batch to the frying pans. When I’ve fried all the tempeh I have, I put the slices in a bowl and add salt to my liking.

Fried tempeh keeps well, at least a couple of weeks if kept in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s a great snack, can be added to a salad or a sandwich, or eaten as a main protein in a light meal. Many people find tempeh’s taste a bit weird, but I guarantee that cooked this way it’s both delicious and addictive!