Fresh tempeh is becoming more widely available in the UK, and this Indonesian inspired recipe is a great showcase for its delicate nutty flavour. Tempeh is often deep-fried, but recipe removes the hassle by baking it and tossing in an aromatic glaze.
Cooking time : 35 min
200 g fresh tempeh
half a red onion
3 red chillies, de-seeded
4 cloves garlic
2 cm piece of ginger
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce, see below).
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the tempeh into small matchsticks, about 5 mm by 10 mm thick. Toss in a tbsp or two of oil and play out on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle a small amount of salt over them and cook in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and crisp, while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Use a food processor to blend the onion, garlic, ginger and 2 chillies into a rough paste. Alternatively grate the onion and finely chop/crush everything else. Bash the lemongrass until it starts to split and release its aroma. Cut the remaining chilli into thin slices.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, the bay leaf, lemongrass and paste. Sauté for 5 min until cooked and fragrant. Add most of the chilli slices (reserving some for garnish) and sauté another few minutes.
- Add the kecap manis, sugar and a few tbsp of water. This helps dissolve the sugar and incorporate the paste into the glaze. Turn the heat to low and gently reduce, mixing until everything starts to look jammy.
- Remove the tempeh from the oven and tip into the pan. Stir until all the pieces are all shiny and coated (you may need a splash of water here to loosen the glaze, but avoid is possible to keep the tempeh crispy). Kill the heat, remove the lemongrass and bay leaf, then serve topped with the remaining chilli slices alongside steamed rice and green veggies.
I buy my tempeh from http://www.freshtempeh.co.uk/, but it’s worth checking what is available locally first (and if that fails I suspect firm tofu would still produce a great dish). Kecap manis can be found in asian markets or world food aisles of supermarkets, but substitute with 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce for colour, and 1 tbsp brown sugar if you can’t find it.