Tempeh, or tempe in Javanese, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. It is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but tempeh is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins compared to tofu, as well as firmer texture and stronger flavor. Tofu, however, is thought to be more versatile in dishes. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue. Even long before people found and realized its rich nutritional value, tempeh was referred to as “Javanese meat.”
Tempeh begins with whole soybeans, which are softened by soaking and dehulled, then partly cooked. Specialty tempehs may be made from other types of beans, wheat, or may include a mixture of beans and whole grains.
A mild acidulent, usually vinegar, may be added in order to lower the pH and create a selective environment that favors the growth of the tempeh mold over competitors. A fermentation starter containing the spores of fungus Rhizopus oligosporus is mixed in. The beans are spread into a thin layer and are allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature around 30°C (86°F). In good tempeh, the beans are knit together by a mat of white mycelia.
Under conditions of lower temperature, or higher ventilation, gray or black patches of spores may form on the surface—this is not harmful, and should not affect the flavor or quality of the tempeh. This sporulation is normal on fully mature tempeh. A mild ammonia smell may accompany good tempeh as it ferments, but it should not be overpowering. In Indonesia, ripe tempeh (two or more days old) is considered a delicacy.
The soy protein in tempeh becomes more digestible as a result of the fermentation process. In particular, the oligosaccharides that are associated with gas and indigestion are greatly reduced by the Rhizopus culture. In traditional tempeh making shops, the starter culture often contains other beneficial bacteria that produce vitamins such as B12 (though it is disputed whether this B12 is "bioavailable"). In western countries, it is more common to use a pure culture containing only Rhizopus oligosporus.
tempe bongkrèk :made from or with coconut press cake
tempe bosok (busuk) :rotten tempeh, used in small amounts as a flavouring
tempe gembus : made from okara
tempe gódhóng :tempeh made in banana leaves
tempe goreng : deep-fried tempeh
tempe mendoan : raw-fried tempeh
tempe kedelai : simply tempeh, made from soybeans
tempe murni :tempeh made in plastic wrap (lit. pure soybean cake)
tempe oncom : also onchom; made from peanut press cake; orange color; Neurospora sitophila
In the kitchen, tempeh is often prepared by cutting it into pieces, soaking in brine or salty sauce, and then frying. Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone, or used in chili, stir frys, soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. I do love to eat it on rainy day or during this rainy season, like now. Yummy!!!