07 March 2014

Tempe Manis Pedas (Sweet & Spicy Tempe) - AFF Indonesia Mar 2014

Actually I've never tasted tempe till the recent years. Have always been curious about the little brown/newspaper oblong packets that are sold at Malay grocery stalls (and some chinese tofu stalls as well). Through wikipedia, I found out that they are tempe, a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins.

Decided to give it a try at Malay food stall, it's usually fried with tau kwa, long beans, ikan bilis in sambal. My very first try, I was hooked! Love the texture, slightly crunchy on the outside and firm texture inside, with a distinct earthy bean taste. From then on, I would order this dish whenever I dine at Malay/Indonesia food stalls.

It has never occurred to me to try cooking it at home and AFF Indonesia provided this opportunity to give it a try. So this was actually my first time buy the little packets :p The kakak at my nearby wet market is very friendly and told me that if I need any ingredients to cook Indonesian dishes, just ask her!

Found a lot of tempe recipes on the internet, some cooked in coconut, some fried and eaten as chips. I was particularly keen in recipes that use kecap manis coz I love its sweet and rich taste. The recipe I adapted is from a Malay website Sajian Sedap, just chanced upon it while doing a search. The original recipe is Kering Dendeng Tempe Manis Pedas which is Sweet & Spicy Tempe with Beef Jerky, and I replaced the beef jerky with black tau kwa and long beans that were leftover from other dishes I cooked.

 Here were the main ingredients - tempe, palm sugar, galangal, lime, chilli padi, kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves, garlic and red onions. The recipe calls for Indonesia bay leaf also known as salam but I decided to use normal bay leaf since I have a bottle in the pantry.

One important component of the recipe,  Kecap Manis which is sweet dark soy sauce! I came to know that this particular brand Bango is very popular in Indonesia. Another household brand is ABC.

 Tempe, black tau kwa and long beans after deep frying.

Tempe Manis Pedas (Sweet & Spicy Tempe)
(recipe adapted from Sajiansedap.com)
(serves 1-2)

  • 3 packets tempe, cut into 3x1cm strips
  • 1/2 pc black tau kwa (optional), cut into cubes
  • 1 stalk long bean (optional), cut into 2-3cm length
  • 2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 chilli padi, thinly sliced (original normal large red chilli)
  • 1 bay leaf (I use normal bay leaf instead of Indonesia bay leaf - salam)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, tear into big pieces, removing bone/stem
  • 1cm galangal, grated
  • 1 Tbsp kecap manis
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 25g palm sugar or gula melaka, shaved
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Oil for deep frying
  1. Heat pot with oil on medium low heat. Deep fry tempe till golden brown, tau kwa till crispy and long bean very briefly (5 secs). Drain on kitchen towel and set aside.
  2. In a frying pan, add 1 Tbsp of cooking oil on medium low heat, saute onion, garlic, chilli padi, bay leaf, lime leaves and galangal till fragrant.
  3. Once onion turns soft and translucent, add kecap manis, salt, palm sugar and water. Stir well with the ingredients (from step 2).
  4. Add tempe, tau kwa and long beans (from step 1). Toss to mix well with ingredients and sauce. Cook till sauce is reduced.
  5. Add lime juice and toss briefly.
  6. Serve warm with rice.

I love this dish very much!! It's spicy (from chilli padi), sweet (from kecap manis and palm sugar) and tangy (from lime juice). The sauce was perfect with tempe and the onions, and rice as well. This dish/recipe is definitely a keeper and I believe I'm going to cook tempe more often now.

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Indonesia Month


  1. Hi Meg, may I know where I can buy this brand please?


  2. Hi Joyce,
    You mean the Bango Kecap Manis? I bought it at the Malay grocery stall at Jurong West wet market.