Thursday, September 20, 2012

Palm sugar fried tempeh

September 16, 2012

On the Sunday morning after the VegMel picnic, Cindy and I had (along with cracking sugar hangovers) a big pile of leftover slaw to use up. We pondered our protein options, deciding to avoid one of our regular tofu recipes and try something new: Lucy's amazing-sounding fried tempeh.

We had almost everything we needed in the cupboard already, meaning I just had to duck out and grab some tempeh and we were ready to roll. Ours didn't quite work out the way it was supposed to, largely because our kecap manis isn't at all syrupy (it's more or less the texture of soy sauce) and I unthinkingly followed the recipe anyway, meaning that the sauce was a little too liquidy. It still tasted delicious though, the tamarind flavour in particular seeping deep into the tempeh. The key to kicking this dish up from 'good' to 'great' is the sprinkling of fried shallots on top. Don't skimp! The photo above has the bare minimum required. I sprinkled chilli flakes on top as well, but Cindy thought the tempeh was tasty enough as it was.

Palm sugar fried tempeh
(based on this recipe from Nourish Me)

2 x 300g packets of tempeh, sliced finely
1 tablespoon of tamarind paste
1-2 tablespoons of kecap manis
1/2 cup water (or less, depending on the texture of your kecap manis)
a block of palm sugar (about 1/4 cup's worth)
coconut oil

Melt a decent puddle of coconut oil into a wok and, when it gets nice and hot, drop about a quarter of the tempeh in and fry it up until it's a bit crispy and has turned nice and golden. Repeat with the rest of the tempeh, refreshing the oil as needed.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer lightly until the palm sugar is melted through (I'm not sure if we're doing something wrong, but our palm sugar is so hard as to be essentially un-grateable at room temperature).

Heat the wok up again with a smear of leftover coconut oil in it, and throw in the fried tempeh and the sauce. Simmer it all down until the sauce bubbles away to nothing and the tempeh is coated nicely. Serve with leftover coleslaw, fried shallots and chilli flakes.


  1. Intriguing. WOuld you say this is more sweet than salty? How odd that your kecap manis is so thin, though.

    1. Hi leaf! I'd say it's equal parts sweet, sour and salty. The hefty sprinkling of fried shallots places it firmly in the savoury camp. :-)