Tempeh is made from cultured and fermented soy beans. I have started to really like the tempeh that they make at work, so I decided to try out making a tempeh dish of my own. The vegetarian and vegan community has adopted tempeh and has created many new ways to prepare it. However, since tempeh is originally from Indonesia and is a traditional food there, I wanted to follow an Indonesian tempeh recipe. After searching for recipes, I decided to make "Hot spicy fried tempeh sambal (Sambal goreng tempe)" from Australian Gourmet Traveller. Note that since this is an Australian recipe, the temperatures are in Celsius and the measurements are in grams (luckily my oven thermometer has Celsius and my scale also measures in grams).
I made a few modifications to the recipe. I followed the suggestion from Resep Indonesia's "Spiced Fried Tempeh", and used 2 kaffir lime leaves, mostly because I have frozen kaffir lime leaves, and I was curious about how they affected the dish, since this is still a relatively new ingredient for me. I removed the ribs before slicing the kaffir leaves, since I think the ribs are tough and added them to the saute just before I added the tamarind water. The kaffir lime leave chiffonade adds a faint aroma that is similar to lime zest but a little more floral, without adding any acidity.
Also instead of thinly slicing the galangal (as suggested by the Gourmet Traveller recipe), I minced it and pounded it in a mortar and pestle with the minced garlic, because the galangal was hard to slice and seemed very tough to me, so a paste sounded better to me and that's what the Resep recipe does with the galangal.
I used a small partial piece of shallot and 1/2 a red onion instead of just shallots as recommended by Gourmet Traveller, since the shallot and red onion were left over from some previous dish and sitting in my fridge and I wanted to use them up.
I used 2 red bird's eye chilis, with the seeds. This makes the dish pleasantly spicy but not too spicy.
The gourmet articles says to season the tempeh to taste. I did add a pinch of salt at the end of cooking; it helps the flavors pop. I didn't sprinkle any additional sliced bird's eye chilies at the end, since I didn't want to make this too hot for William.
Tempeh in its package
Shrimp paste. One of the reasons I picked the Gourmet Traveller article is because I also wanted to do a recipe with shrimp paste. As suggested, I wrapped some in aluminum paste and baked it at 400 F for 5 minutes.
The tempeh after cutting it:
Measuring tamarind paste with a scale
Frozen kaffir lime leaves. You can recognize them because of their distinctive"double leaves"; each "leaf" grows as two conjoined leaves. Kaffir lime leaves store well in the freezer, so I buy lots of them fresh from Southeast Asian grocery stores, and freeze them, so I will have some when I need them.
The appliances I used to cook this dish: cast iron dutch oven and electric thermometer which I used to fry the tempeh, kettle used to heat water to dissolve the tamarind, a cast iron skillet used to saute the tempeh, and a electric timer with the ability to time 3 different things. And a really clean oven because the cleaners came this morning!