This is the dish that we originally set out to make when we accidentally made sambal goreng kering tempe. This recipe is even easier than the other one. We understand that many of you dedicated meat eaters must be blanching at all of the tempe we’re talking about. It’s true that most tempe served in the US tastes like cardboard, with a slightly chewier texture, but the stuff here is so much better. It’s not that the tempe itself is different–from what we can tell, it’s always just soybeans and yeast–but rather that Indonesians are not afraid to just deep fry the crap out of their food. And that’s what you have to do.
For some reason, the name of this dish means “sauteed tempe,” which is weird, because it’s definitely not sauteed.
1 block tempe, cut into 1/2 cm by 1/2 cm by 2 cm pieces
4 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 chilies, chopped
1 tomato, cored and sliced into thin rounds
1 tablespoon kecap manis
oil for frying
Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wok over high heat. Just as it almost begins to smoke, add the tempe, frying (in batches if necessary) until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove tempe and drain.
Combine shallots, garlic, chilies, and a pinch of salt in a food processor or mortar and pestle and process/mash into a smooth paste. Add a bit of oil if necessary to keep things moving.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the spice paste and fry until fragrant. Add the kecap manis and tomato, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to fry until the tomato starts to break down, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved tempe, stir to combine over the heat, and then serve, either as a small side dish or as a meal with white rice.