Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Spicy Tempeh with Bean Curd and Anchovies


My first introduction to tempeh (fermented soya bean cake) was at my university hostel cafeteria. That was 28 years ago. I was queuing up at the food counter with the standard issue plastic food tray. I saw this dark brown mass of something that looked like beef. Without a second thought, I scooped it into my tray and moved on to get my vegetables.



When I sat down to eat, I had my first taste of tempeh. I chewed on it and it had a peculiar taste. This can't be beef, the texture is different. I did not exactly like it immediately, it was just OK at that point. It was only later that I found out that it was tempeh and from then onwards, I was always fighting with the rest of the girls for the tempeh. Somehow it was THE most popular dish at the cafeteria. If you are late, very sorry, there will be none left for you. And I wonder why the caterer did not feature tempeh more often seeing that we girls loved it so much (I stayed in an all girls hostel).


Raw tempeh. The white stuff is fungal mycellium. Not harmful at all.

Fast forward to a few years later, whenever I bought food from the Malay stalls, I would be on the look out for tempeh. I was a tempeh addict :) Sometimes the stall would sell pieces of deep fried tempeh coated with turmeric and salt. And they also put tempeh in sayur lemak. My favorite is of course tempeh fried in sambal with tofu and ikan bilis (anchovies). This is one dish that  I can eat by the bowls! And I can never get tired of it. The only low point is the deep frying of the ingredients. But I am not eating this everyday, only once in a blue moon, so it should be alright.


Deep fried tempeh cubes. Delicious on its own with sweet chilli sauce.

There are many variations to this spicy tempeh dish. One of the most basic is just tempeh and ikan bilis like the one my big sister Kak Queenie cooked. And then there's the grand one with tempeh, tofu, ikan bilis, peanuts, sweet potato slices and glass noodles. Whichever way it is cooked, I love them all. The one I cooked is sort of halfway between the simple and luxurious. I skipped the peanuts and glass noodles.



And I must tell you about my maiden experience with ikan bilis. I have never fried ikan bilis my entire life and in another 4 more years, I will be hitting the big Hawaii Five-Oh. So before I reach that milestone, as a self respecting Malaysian, I must fry ikan bilis at least once, alright? I remember Kak Q said that you must wash the ikan bilis under running water until it is clean, drain it and then fry until it is crispy. The purpose of washing is obviously to get rid of dirt and impurities and also to wash away excess salt. I did that, gave it a big squeeze with kitchen towels so that the ikan bilis won't explode in my face when I drop it into the hot oil. 



All seemed to go well except that my ikan bilis was browning very fast but it was still not crispy. I think I did not drain it well enough. Or my fire was too big. If Kak Q could peep into my kitchen and see me murder the ikan bilis, she would be shaking her head and going "Kesian adik aku nih..." (my poor little sister). I removed the ikan bilis and transferred them to an enamel plate. Then I popped them into the oven without preheating at 200C. When the oven beeped, I roasted the ikan bilis for 5 minutes. I think Kak Q just fainted. Anyway, it worked because the ikan bilis turned crispy.


Deep fried and then roasted. Poor ikan bilis.

I think frying ikan bilis requires patience and I will do better next time. Practice, practice, practice! I was happy that the tempeh dish turned out well. It was a delicious walk down memory lane. Hopefully, I will master the art of frying ikan bilis. I will be cooking spicy tempeh again in the near future, with peanuts and glass noodles (yum!).  And I sure hope I won't mess up frying peanuts :)











Mixed Fried Tempeh Sambal
Recipe source : The New Malaysian Cookbook (Page 93)
(my note and adaptations in red)

Ingredients :
- 200ml oil
- 2 cakes beancurd (halved)(I cut into cubes)
- 150g fermented soybean cake/tempeh (thinly sliced)(I cut into cubes)
- 50g dried anchovies (cleaned & halved)(I used a handful)
- 40g transparent vermicelli/glass noodles/suun (soaked till softened)(I omitted)
- 80g groundnuts (I omitted)
- 2 tablespoons chilli paste (I omitted, see below)
- 50ml water (I used 2 tablespoons)
- 1-2 tablespoons thick asam jawa juice(tamarind juice) (I used 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon dark soya sauce (I used 2 tablespoons sweet soya sauce/kicap manis)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (I omitted)
- salt to taste (I omitted because the belacan was salty enough)

Blended ingredients :
- 5 shallots (I used 1 big onion)
- 2 cloves garlic (I used 4 cloves)
- 1 cm dried shrimp paste/belacan
- 1 fresh chilli and 2 dried chillies (soaked to soften)

Method :
1. Heat 150ml oil and fry the beancurd till light brown. Remove and drain well. Then slice thinly.
2. Heat the oil again and fry the fermented soya bean cakes till golden brown. Remove and drain well on paper towel.
3. Dry-fry groundnuts till crispy (skin should be dark brown). Set aside.
4. Deep-fry the anchovies till crispy. Remove and drain well.
5. Heat the remaining 50ml oil and stir fry blended paste, chilli paste and water till aromatic.
6. Mix in asam jawa, dark soya sauce, sugar and salt. Combine well.
7. Add in suun, bean curd, fermented soya bean cake and groundnuts. Mix thoroughly and cook till almost dry.
8. Season to taste, dish out onto a plate and serve.



Photobucket

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Mich of Piece of Cake.

62 comments:

  1. I had to look at this recipe since it had ANCHOVIES in it! I actually love anchovies, so I would go NUTS for this!

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    1. Hi Cathleen! Hope that you like your anchovies spicy!

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  2. You made this dish looks very delicious though Im not a fan of tempeh.

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    1. Mel, you can try it with just beancurd and ikan bilis. Also very nice!

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  3. Hi Phong Hong. Question question, do you need to remove the white thing before cooking? This tempeh sounds really interesting to me now after your explaination. I have seen another blogger friend cooked this b4 but no way else, I think.

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    1. Jessie, no need to remove the white thing. It is part of the tempeh. If you just simply coat it with turmeric powder and salt and fry it, wah! Sedap lor!

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  4. Hi Phong Hong, tempeh looks interesting, haven't tried this before! My mom tells me to fry ikan bilis over low fire so that it will not burn so quicky, lucky you managed to find a way using the oven!

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    1. Jasline, I'll try frying ikan bilis over low fire. I was too impatient I guess! Tempeh is very good but it is an acquired taste. I wasn't that impressed the first time but it grew on me :)

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  5. My family like tempeh very much too. No matter how I cook it, we still love it. Yours definitely look yummy and tempting :)

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    1. Ivy, would love to see how you cook it!

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  6. This is one of my favorite dishes to order whenever I eat malay food :)

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    1. Hi Alan! Glad to know there is another tempeh fan in you :)

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  7. I am not a big fan of tempeh but i will gladly picked out the ikan bilis from your delicious looking sambal ;) btw, i thought you were very innovative the way you rescued your ikan bilis :)

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    1. I was sacred that I would burn the ikan bilis so I gave it a shot in the oven. Lucky for me it worked!

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  8. I have a colleague who simply heart tempel

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    1. There are many tempeh lovers around :)

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  9. wow , so nice! let me add one bowl rice. ha! ha! ha!

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    1. Sure Joceline! I'll cook lots of rice for you :)

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  10. Hi Phong hong, I'm falling in love with tempeh after my first bite at one of the restaurant nearby my office. It's so yummy :)

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    Replies
    1. Esther, then you can try this recipe!

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  11. *knocking my utensils against each other* waiting for my serving... fasterly fasterly

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    Replies
    1. Victoria, so impatient to eat tempeh? Hee..hee..

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  12. Hi Phong Hong, this would be yummy with hmmmm Nasi Lemak... Should have posted my oven baked anchovies recipe earlier, hehehe!

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    Replies
    1. Kimmy, had I known earlier, I would have done your method!

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  13. I saw you omitted sugar, you shouldn't , usually I like a bit sweet, salty and sweet, yummy lar!

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    Replies
    1. Sonia, noted! I also prefer a bit sweet :)

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  14. I'm also not a big fan of tempeh, but your spicy version looks tempting leh. Maybe I just need to find the right version to get addicted to it too!

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    Replies
    1. Yen, it is an acquired taste. I wasn't too crazy about it at the beginning.

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  15. Looks spicily delicious! I need to start buying tempeh again, just that my husband and elder girl are not a fan. Sigh!

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    1. Oh, you are the only one who likes it! Maybe can cook a small portion.

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  16. ¸.°º✿♫ •°
    Boa terça-feira!
    Passei para ver as receitas.
    O colorido, a textura e a apresentação do prato são maravilhosos!!!
    Imagino o sabor... é tudo de bom!!!
    ❤❤°º Boa semana!
    ✿°º Beijinhos
    ✿♫ 彡

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  17. Hi Phong Hong, this is also one of my favorite dish from Malay stalls...just love the chewy tempeh and especially the ikan billis too...sometimes I forgot to wash the ikan billis and just omit putting salt into the dish. A bit salty but it's good, prevent me from eating way too much lol!

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    1. Jeannie, oh can cook without washing kah? I suppose it is ok if your ikan bilis don't have dirt, after all the hot oil will kill the bacteria hee..hee...

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  18. This one of my favourite dish I have not eaten it for ages your dish make me feel so hungry I hope I can find tempeh here and will try your dish

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    Replies
    1. Maybe can get from the Asian shop or organic shop :)

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  19. Wow this makes my mouth water! So yummy... now I feel like making this too.

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    1. Mich, do try it! I love this dish a lot :)

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  20. I see tempeh all the time when I visit a southeast asian supermarket but i have never tried it. Thanks for the introduction and the tofu dish sounds really flavorful. I am looking forward to cooking with tempeh soon. Thanks!

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    1. Yi, do try it! I am addicted to this spicy dish. You probably would like it too.

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  21. PH, you are really a good cook! Your tempeh looks tasty!

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    1. Thank you, Jozelyn! Hope you will try it too.

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  22. Hi PH,
    Now this is really making me drool! Looks so invitingly sedap mann! YUMMY! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kit! I am sure you like pedas-pedas :)

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  23. Hi Phong Hong,
    I like tempeh too! Very nice cooked with chillies and sambal! We would add it in lontong when we cook for a family get-together and eat it with sambal belacan, yummilicious!
    Now you are so making me crave for some!! Your plate of tempeh is making my mouth water, luckily I've cooked some sambal petai today, can tahan a bit! hahaha!

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    1. Joyce, glad to know that you like tempeh too! I am going to cook more tempeh, can't get enough of it!

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  24. i dont know whether i like tempeh or not cos i nvr tried them before....hmmm...looks like i hv to try tempeh also before the big five 0 hits me ..hehe..

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    1. Lena, if you see it at the Malay stall, buy some and try. Very nice lah!

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  25. I too haven't tried tempeh before! I've seen it so many times passing by the Malay stall but just never dared to try because I've heard so many stories.... But this looks really delicious and you've def sold it to me! Next up on my list of things to try! Yum!

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    1. Scary stories, Shu Han? You should go ahead and try it. It's really good!

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  26. Have eaten done in various ways at the Malay stalls here - yet to try cooking it myself. They do sell the raw ones here as well.

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    1. Arthur, I admit it is a bit troublesome to cook this spicy tempeh but I was glad I went through the trouble. I enjoyed it so much!

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  27. wah..lapar terus bila tengok gambar... hi phong hong, thumbs up for you for successfully making this dish! my favourite! i notice that if we cook ourselves, it is tastier than buying from stalls... because normally in stalls the tempe already become cold and soggy....huhu...

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    1. Hi Honey & Butter! Thank you! Yes, we can adjust to our own tastes too. This is one of my top favorite dishes. Nampak je, terus sambar!

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  28. Another awesome dish...almost missed this post! Just love the addition of the anchovies, Phong Hong! Hugs,

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    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! It is nice to eat crispy and spicy anchovies!

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  29. Hi Phong Hong,

    This is simply sedap!!! My husband and I love anything with anchovies with chilli :D

    Zoe

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    1. Zoe, I love anchovies in sambal. In this case it is even better with tempeh!

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  30. Replies
    1. Alice, I understand that Indonesians love tempeh!

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  31. Hi Phong Hong, I don't really fancy tempeh but love this dish. I will just pick the ikan bilis and tofu. LOL

    Have a nice evening.

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    Replies
    1. Amelia, then you can just leave out the tempeh. Ikan bilis and tofu alone is also just as good!

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