From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fresh tempeh at the market, Jakarta, Indonesia – traditionally, tempeh is wrapped in banana leaves.

Tempeh (/ˈtɛmp/; Javanese: témpé, Javanese pronunciation: [tempe]) is a traditional soy product originating from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.[1] Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate from Greater Chinese cuisine.

Tempeh being sold in a traditional market in Indonesia

It is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, which becomes more pronounced as it ages.[2][3]


Tempeh being sold on Java, early 20th century

Tempeh probably originated on the island of Java. It was mentioned as kadêlê in an old Javanese manuscript, Serat Sri Tanjung, which dates around the 12th to 13th century.[4] The earliest known reference to it as “tempeh” appeared in 1815 in the Serat Centhini.[5]

The invention of tempeh is connected to tofu production in Java. The tofu-making industry was introduced to Java by Chinese immigrants circa the 17th century. Chinese Indonesian historian Ong Hok Ham suggests that tempeh was accidentally produced as the by-product of the tofu industry in Java; as discarded soybeans caught the spores of and grew a whitish fungus that was found to be edible.[4] The etymology of the term tempeh itself is suggested to be derived from old Javanese tumpi, a whitish food made from sagoo,[definition needed] while historian Denys Lombard suggests that it is linked to the local term tape or tapai which means “fermentation”.[4] Three detailed, fully documented histories of tempeh, worldwide, have been written, all by Shurtleff and Aoyagi (1985, 1989, and 2001).


Making tempeh by wrapping boiled soybeans in banana leaves

Tempeh begins with whole soybeans, which are softened by soaking, and dehulled, then partly cooked. Specialty tempehs may be made from other types of beans, wheat, or may include a mixture of beans and whole grains.

A mild acidulent, usually vinegar, may be added to lower the pH and create a selective environment that favors the growth of the tempeh mold over competitors. A fermentation starter containing the spores of fungus Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae is mixed in.[6] The beans are spread into a thin layer and are allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature around 30°C (86°F). In good tempeh, the beans are knitted together by a mat of white mycelium.

Traditional tempeh is often produced in Indonesia using Hibiscus tiliaceus leaves. The undersides of the leaves are covered in downy hairs (known technically as trichomes) to which the mold Rhizopus oligosporus can be found adhering in the wild. Soybeans are pressed into the leaf, and stored. Fermentation occurs resulting in tempeh.[7] In particular, the tempeh undergoes salt-free aerobic fermentation.[8]

Under conditions of lower temperature, or higher ventilation, gray or black patches of spores may form on the surface—this is not harmful, and should not affect the flavor or quality of the tempeh.[9] This sporulation is normal on fully mature tempeh. A mild ammonia smell may accompany good tempeh as it ferments, but it should not be overpowering.


Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 803 kJ (192 kcal)
7.64 g
10.80 g
20.29 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.078 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.358 mg
Niacin (B3)
2.640 mg
Vitamin B6
0.215 mg
Folate (B9)
24 μg
Vitamin B12
0.08 μg
111 mg
2.7 mg
81 mg
1.3 mg
266 mg
412 mg
9 mg
1.14 mg
Other constituents
Water 59.65 g

Full Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The soy carbohydrates in tempeh become more digestible as a result of the fermentation process. In particular, the oligosaccharides associated with gas and indigestion are greatly reduced by the Rhizopus culture. In traditional tempeh-making shops, the starter culture often contains beneficial bacteria that produce vitamins such as B12[10][11] (though it is uncertain whether this B12 is always present and bioavailable).[12] In western countries, it is more common to use a pure culture containing only Rhizopus oligosporus, which makes very little B12 and could be missing Citrobacter freundii and Klebsiella pneumoniae, which have been shown to produce significant levels of B12 analogs in tempeh when present.[13] Whether these analogs are true, bioavailable B12, has not been thoroughly studied yet.[14] The fermentation process also reduces the phytic acid in soy,[15] which in turn allows the body to absorb the minerals that soy provides.


Tempeh burger

In the kitchen, tempeh is often prepared by cutting it into pieces, soaking in brine or salty sauce, and then frying. Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone, or used in chili, stir fries, soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. Tempeh's complex flavor has been described as nutty, meaty, and mushroom-like. It freezes well, and is now commonly available in many western supermarkets, as well as in ethnic markets and health food stores. Tempeh can be steamed, marinated, thinly sliced, blackened, or crumbled into sauces and stews.[16]

Tempeh performs well in a cheese grater, after which it may be used in the place of ground beef (as in tacos). When thin-sliced and deep-fried in oil, tempeh obtains a crisp golden crust while maintaining a soft interior—its sponge-like consistency makes it suitable for marinating. Dried tempeh (whether cooked or raw) is more portable and less perishable and may be used as a stew base. Sometimes when tempeh is diced and left, they will create white feathery fluff which bonds the cut—this is the Rhizopus mold still growing—this is normal and perfectly edible.


Sliced tempe kedelai (soy tempeh)

The most common tempeh are made from fermented soybeans. However, traditionally other ingredients such as ampas tahu (tofu dregs), ampas kelapa (coconut dregs) and peanuts may be used in the fashion similar to tempeh making process. Despite it might used different type of fungi or might attract other microbes.

Tempe kedelai

Also called tempe kedele or tempe dele or simply just tempe. The most common and widely known tempeh made from controlled fermentation of soybeans.

Tempe gembus

Tempe gembus

Soft and fluffy tempeh made from okara or tofu dregs.[17][18] Tempe gembus usually can be found in traditional markets of Java, and compared to common soybean tempeh it is sold in relatively cheaper price. The tempeh could be processed into variety of dishes, including battered, stir-fried, bacem or added into sayur lodeh. Tempeh gembus is known in different names accross Java; as tahu cokol or tahu susur in Temanggung.[17]

Tempe oncom

Tempe oncom or simply called onchom, is made from peanut press cake or soy dregs, vividly orange in color. Unlike common soybean tempeh that use Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae fungi, oncom uses Neurospora sitophila instead. Among fermented beans products in Java, oncom is more prevalent in West Java, where it served as the main ingredient in various Sundanese cuisine traditional dishes, including oncom goreng, oncom leunca, and nasi tutug oncom. There are two types of oncom, the bright red-orange and the black one.[19]

Tempe menjes kacang

Menjes kacang

Specialty of Malang, this rough textured tempeh menjes kacang is made from black soybean mixed with other beans dregs, such as peanuts, cassava fiber, and soybean meal. The process of making menjes kacang is quite similar to black oncom.[20]

Tempe bongkrèk

Tempe bongkrèk is a variety of tempeh from Central Java, notably Banyumas regency, that is prepared with coconut dregs. This type of tempeh has led to several cases of fatal food poisoning,[21] as it occasionally gets contaminated with the bacterium Burkholderia gladioli, and the unwanted organism produces toxins (bongkrek acid and toxoflavin) from the coconut, besides killing off the Rhizopus fungus due to the antibiotic activity of bongkrek acid.[18]

Fatalities from contaminated tempe bongkrèk were once common in the area where it was produced.[22] Thus, its sale is now prohibited by law; clandestine manufacture continues, however, due to the popular flavor. The problem of contamination is not encountered with bean and grain tempehs, which have a different composition of fatty acids that is not favorable for the growth of B. gladioli, but encourages growth of Rhizopus instead. When bean or grain tempeh has the proper color, texture and smell, it is a very strong indication the product is safe. Yellow tempe bongkrèk is always highly toxic due to toxoflavin, but tempe bongkrèk with a normal coloration may still contain lethal amounts of bongkrek acid.[23]

Oat tempeh

A new form of tempeh based on barley and oats instead of soy was developed by scientists at the Swedish Department of Food Science in 2008. It can be produced in climatic regions where it is not possible to grow soybeans.[24]


Sayur lodeh often mixed in almost rotten tempeh to add flavour.

Most of tempeh had undergone controlled fermentation process to create proper tempeh suitable for consumption. Nevertheless, there are other types of tempeh that left to ferment further to create a pungently stronger "almost rotten" tempeh called tempe semangit in Javanese.

The wrappings also believed to contributed to the flavour and aroma of the tempeh. Traditionally tempeh is wrapped in banana, waru or teak leaf. However, the readily available plastic sheet wrappings has been increasingly widely used. Nevertheless, some might prefer organic leaf wrappings instead.

Common tempeh

Common soybean tempeh that had undergone sufficient fermentation process.

Tempe semangit

In Indonesia, ripe tempeh (two or more days old) is considered a delicacy. This old tempeh is commonly called tempe semangit (stinky tempeh) in Java, hampir busuk (the almost rotten) tempeh or tempe kemarin (yesterday tempeh), has slightly pungent aroma. This almost rotten tempeh is usually used in small amount as a flavouring agent in traditional Javanese sayur lodeh vegetable stew.

Tempe gódhóng

Tempe gódhóng jati (wrapped in teak leaf)

In Javanese language, the term gódhóng means "leaf".[25] Traditionally tempeh is wrapped in organic banana leaf, daun waru (Hibiscus tiliaceus leaf) or daun jati (teak leaf).[26]

Tempe murni

Pure soybean cake, tempeh made in plastic wrap without any fillings or additives, such as grated raw papaya. This was meant to create a more "hygienic and pure" tempeh free from any impurities or unwanted microbes.

Cooking methods and recipes

Sautéed tempeh with string green beans, an Indonesian dish

The most common tempeh consumed widely is tempe kedelai of common soybean tempeh. The simplest way to cook tempeh is by frying, either deep frying or stir-frying. However, there are several cooking methods and recipe variations to prepare tempeh, among others are:

Tempe goreng

Probably the simplest and most popular way to prepare tempeh in Indonesia. The tempeh is sliced and seasoned in a mixture of ground garlic, coriander seeds and salt. Then deep fried in ample amount of palm oil.[27] The tempeh might be coated in batter prior of frying, of directly fried without any batter.

Tempe bacem

Tempe bacem are traditional Javanese dish originated from Central Java. The bacem is a Javanese cooking method of braising main ingredient in spice and palm sugar. The tempeh are braised in coconut water and spices mixture, including coriander seeds, shallots, galangal, bay leaves, and palm sugar and then deep-fried shortly. The result is damp, spicy, sweet and dark-colored tempeh. Other than tempeh, tofu too can be made as tahu bacem.[28]

Tempe mendoan

Frying tempe mendoan

A variation of tempeh cooking method, this type is often found in Purwokerto. The origin of the word mendoan is from Banyumas regional dialect, which means "to cook instantly in very hot oil", that results in product cooked on the outside, but raw or partially cooked on the inside, limp and soft texture. The tempeh is dipped into spiced flour dressing before frying it in hot oil for a short time. Tempe mendoan may seem like half-cooked, soft-fried tempeh, unlike common crisp, fully deep-fried tempeh.

Tempe kering

Also known as kering tempe (lit: "dry tempeh"), or sambal goreng tempe if mixed with plenty of hot and spicy sambal chili pepper sauce. It is a sweet, crispy and spicy fried tempeh.[29] The raw tempeh is cut into small sticks, deep fried until crispy, dry and lose its moist content, then mixed with spices, chili pepper, palm sugar or sweet soy sauce. Often mixed with separately fried peanuts and anchovies (ikan teri). This dry tempeh can be stored up to a month if cooked and stored properly.

Tempe orek or orak-arik tempe

The recipe is almost identical with tempe kering, but this one is more moist and softer compared to dry tempeh.[30] The sweet taste is due to generous addition of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).[31]

Tumis tempe or oseng tempe

Stir-fried tempeh with vegetables such as green bean, basil leaf or onion with spices.[32] Other recipes might add coconut milk to create whitish and rather moist stir-fried tempeh.

Tempe penyet

Fried tempeh squeezed upon sambal chili paste on mortar and pestle. Usually served as an addition of other penyet dishes, such as ayam penyet (chicken) or iga penyet (ribs).

Tempeh satay

Tempeh skewered and grilled as satay. Sate kere (Javanese for "poorman's satay") from Solo in Central Java is made from fluffy tempe gembus.[33] Ground tempeh can be made as thick sauce, such as the sate ambal chicken satay from Kebumen, Central Java. It uses ground tempeh, chili and spices as its sauce, in contrast to common chicken satay recipe that uses peanut sauce instead.[34]

Kripik tempe

Kripik tempeh snack crackers, a thinly sliced tempeh, battered and deep fried until crispy. It is popular accross Java, however, one of major production center of tempeh cracker is Bandung, West Java.

Grilled tempeh

Grilled tempeh over charcoal or fire.[35]

Tempeh sandwich or tempeh burger

Fried, grilled or cooked in any other ways tempeh patties, sandwiched with slices of bread or hamburger buns, served with vegetables salad, sauces or seasonings.[36]


Freshly made, raw tempeh remains edible for a few days at room temperature. The tempeh is neither acidic nor does it contain significant amounts of alcohol. Tempeh does, however, possess stronger resistance to lipid peroxidation than unfermented soybeans, due to its antioxidant contents.[37]

Cooked as tempe kering, the deep fried and seasoned bits of tempeh, can last for a month or more and still good to consume, if cooked correctly, and stored properly in air-tight jar. The deep frying process removed the moisture, preventing further fermentation and deterioration, thus prolonged its shelf life.

See also


  1. ^ "Tempeh". Dictionary.com. 
  2. ^ Bennett, Beverly Lynn; Sammartano, Ray (2008). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking. Penguin. p. 17. ISBN 9781592577705. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Dragonwagon, Crescent; Gourley, Robbin (2002). Passionate Vegetarian. Workman Publishing. p. 639. ISBN 9781563057113. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Hendri F. Isnaeni (9 July 2014). "Sejarah Tempe" (in Indonesian). Historia. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  5. ^ The Book of Tempeh, 2nd ed., by W. Shurtleff and A. Aoyagi (2001, Ten Speed Press, p. 145)
  6. ^ "What is tempeh starter?". Tempeh.info. 
  7. ^ Shirtleff, William; Akiko Aoyagi (1979). "The Book of Tempeh". Soyinfo Center, Harper and Row. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-19. 
  8. ^ Watanabe, N.; Fujimoto, K.; Aoki, H. (2007). "Antioxidant activities of the water-soluble fraction in tempeh-like fermented soybean (GABA-tempeh)". International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 58 (8): 577–587. doi:10.1080/09637480701343846. 
  9. ^ Mother Earth News editors (September–October 1977). "How to Make and Cook Tempeh". Mother Earth News. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Liem, IT; Steinkraus, KH; Cronk, TC (December 1977). "Production of vitamin B-12 in tempeh, a fermented soybean food". Appl Environ Microbiol. 34 (6): 773–6. PMC 242746Freely accessible. PMID 563702. 
  11. ^ Truesdell, Delores D.; Green, Nancy R.; Acosta, Phyllis B. (1987). "Vitamin B12 Activity in Miso and Tempeh". Journal of Food Science. 52 (2): 493–494. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1987.tb06650.x. 
  12. ^ Allison A. Yates. "National Nutrition and Public Health Policies: Issues Related to Bio-availability of Nutrients When Developing Dietary Reference Intakes (from January 2000 conference: Bio-availability of Nutrients and Other Bio-active Components from Dietary Supplements" (PDF). 
  13. ^ Keuth, S; Bisping, B (May 1994). "Vitamin B12 production by Citrobacter freundii and Klebsiella pneumoniae during tempeh fermentation" (PDF). Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 60 (5): 1495–9. PMC 201508Freely accessible. PMID 8017933. 
  14. ^ "Vitamin B12: Are You Getting It?". Vegan Health. 
  15. ^ Amanda Rose. "Soy and Phytic Acid: Stick with Fermented Tempeh and Miso". Reducing Phytic Acid in Your Food: A visual analysis of the research on home kitchen remedies for phytic acid. Rebuild Market. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Five Ways to Prepare Tempeh". Kitchn. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  17. ^ a b Safira, Maya. "Tempe Gembus yang Empuk Menthul-menthul Kayak Kasur". detikfood (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  18. ^ a b Mustinda, Lusiana. "Apa Benar Tempe Gembus dan Tempe Bongkrek Nutrisinya Rendah?". detikfood (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-18. 
  19. ^ Wijaya, Kirana (2014-03-01). Lauk Tempe, Tahu, & Oncom (in Indonesian). DeMedia. ISBN 9789790822061. 
  20. ^ Maharrani, Anindhita (2016-08-26). "Menjes, tempe khas dari Malang". Beritagar (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  21. ^ Aoyagi, William Shurtleff, Akiko (2010). History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Southeast Asia (13th Century To 2010): Extensively Annotated Bibliography and Sourcebook. Soyinfo Center. ISBN 9781928914303. 
  22. ^ Liputan6.com (25 September 2003). "Bahaya Tempe Bongkrek Kurang Sosialisasi". liputan6.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-18. 
  23. ^ Setiarto, Raden Haryo Bimo. "Waspadai Toksoflavin dan Asam Bongkrek Yang Dihasilkan Bakteri Pseudomonas" (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-18. 
  24. ^ "New Vegetarian Food With Several Health Benefits". ScienceDaily. May 30, 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2018. 
  25. ^ "Arti kata godhong (godhong) dalam kamus Jawa-Indonesia. Terjemahan dari bahasa Jawa ke bahasa Indonesia - Kamus lengkap online semua bahasa". kamuslengkap.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  26. ^ "Mikrobiologi Tempe Daun Waru". Scribd (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  27. ^ "Fried Tempeh & Tofu | Tahu Tempe Goreng". www.lestariweb.com. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  28. ^ "Tahu dan Tempe Bacem (Braised Spiced Tofu and Temphe)". What To Cook Today. 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  29. ^ "Crispy And Spicy Fried Tempe (Kering Tempe)". Indonesian Recipe. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  30. ^ "Tempe Orek Recipe | Another Classical of Cooking Tempeh". indonesianfoods-recipes.blogspot.co.id. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  31. ^ "Orek Tempe". Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  32. ^ "4.971 resep oseng tempe enak dan sederhana". Cookpad (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  33. ^ "11 resep sate tempe gembus enak dan sederhana". Cookpad (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  34. ^ "Recipe for Sate Ambal". chickensatay.org. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  35. ^ "How to Master Grilled Tempeh - Organic Authority". Organic Authority. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2018-01-20. 
  36. ^ "Tempeh Vegan Club Sandwiches Recipe - Love and Lemons". Love and Lemons. 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2018-01-20. 
  37. ^ Umm al-Qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tempeh&oldid=821564004"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Tempeh"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA