Jan 19

Balinese Tempeh

I went to a cooking class when I was in Bali and the food was so good, that I got a little teary-eyed because I may never have food that good again. The flavors were complex and mixed together so perfectly that I never wanted to stop eating. Luckily, the cooking class included recipes typed out on paper for us to take home. I suspect that most people taking these classes never try to recreate the flavors.

I not only wanted to do that, but I wanted to at least make it healthier myself if I could. The food was phenomenal and chock full of veggies, but it was also full of coconut oil, things were deep fried, and lots of salty soy sauce. Basically, stuff I would never eat unless I was on vacation.

The first dish I wanted to try out was pretty easy: Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce. Tempeh is a cake made of fermented soybeans, and is like tofu, only it’s denser and meatier tasting. And here was the rub: I didn’t want to fry it, and I had no Kecap Manis, or Indonesian sweet soy sauce. I also didn’t have some of the other Balinese ingredients, so I had to make do with what’s available here.


The recipe originally calls for four shallots, 5 kaffir lime leaves, and 10 mild red chilies. Instead, I chopped up a sweet onion that was the same size as four shallots, used three poblano peppers (which approximate 10 of the smaller Balinese chilies), and grated the zest of one lime. It also called for a spring onion, which I included. Instead of using oil, I water sautéed over the heat by just using a non-stick pan and adding a touch of water now and then so nothing stuck. All the veggies sweated nicely.

At the same time, I roasted two packages of tempeh in the oven on parchment paper, and created the sweet soy sauce in the most healthy way possible: I put a half cup of Braggs Liquid Aminos in a blender with four medjool dates and blended until smooth. It’s about 1/3 of the sodium, no refined sugar, and extra fiber while still giving a sweet and salty taste.

Does this dish taste just like the one in Bali? No. Is it still delicious and something I encourage you to try? Yes!

Roasted Tempeh in Sweet and Salty Sauce

2 8oz packets of tempeh, cubed
3 poblano peppers, seeds removed and diced
4 shallots or 1 white onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 spring onion, chopped
5 tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
4 medjool dates
zest of one lime

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cubes of tempeh on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. roast for 20 minutes. Make sure tempeh doesn’t burn towards the end.

Combine peppers, shallots, garlic and spring onion in non-stick pan with a splash of water and water saute about 10 minutes or when there is some browning. Use the seeds of the peppers to adjust the heat to your liking.

Blend the liquid aminos and the dates in a blender until smooth.

When tempeh is ready, combine it in the pan with the veggies and pour the sauce and zest over. Combine until the sauce is well incorporated and the tempeh is covered.

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