Back in December I spent some time in Bali, Indonesia, and the food was fantastic! I’ve never seen such an amazing raw, vegan and gluten free scene. Not even in NYC!
One of the local dishes I tasted that I really enjoyed was a fried tempeh. For those of you unfamiliar with tempeh, it’s a fermented soy product native to Indonesia, but also widely consumed by vegans and vegetarians in the states as a protein or meat substitute at times.
I couldn’t get enough of this tempeh, it was sweet, salty, spicy and crunchy. I mean, what more is there to ask for? And, as luck would have it, I took a cooking class at the amazing Paon-Bali and this dish was on the menu. This dish traditionally uses sweet soy sauce, which is not gluten free, but in the class they had us substitute the sweet soy sauce for palm sugar syrup. If you have palm sugar syrup lying around, give it a try! For this recipe, I substituted the sweet soy sauce/palm sugar for coconut aminos and brown rice syrup.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Sweet and Salty Fried Tempeh
2 packages tempeh, thinly sliced*
1/2 cup + 2 tbs refined coconut oil, separated
5 red chilies**, seeds removed, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 tbs kefir lime leaves***
3 tbs brown rice syrup
3 tbs coconut aminos or 2 tbs tamari (adjusted to taste)
*While not super important, the type of tempeh you use matters. If you’re new to tempeh, don’t worry about it, but if you’re familiar with tempeh and different brands, try to choose a softer variety. I’ve found that the whole grain ones are firmer, thus don’t work as well. The tempeh in Indonesia is very soft (and white!), the closest I’ve seen here is Barry’s Tempeh.
**if you can’t find red chilies, you can use whatever you can find locally, just adjust depending on your desired level of heat, the red ones are relatively mild.
***I use the jarred ones from Whole Foods, it’s difficult to find fresh kefir lime leaves. If you can’t find the jarred ones, you can use 1 tsp lime zest.
- Heat 1/2 cup coconut oil in a wide saucepan or wok.
- Once hot, place about 1/3 of the tempeh in the pan, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. You can deep-fry the tempeh or pan-fry the tempeh, up to you. Both ways work well, I just prefer not to use so much oil since it ends up in the trash. To deep-fry, make sure the oil is deep enough that the tempeh is entirely covered. To pan-fry, use less oil and wait until the tempeh is cooked on one side, and then flip. In either method, wait until both sides of the tempeh are slightly brown (burned tempeh tastes icky) and remove with a slotted spoon.
- Continue until all the tempeh has been fried.
- In a separate pan, heat 2 tbs coconut oil. Once hot, add the garlic, shallot, chilies and scallions. Cook 3-5 minutes, until slightly browned, then add the kefir lime.
- Add the tempeh to the pan, along with the coconut aminos/tamari and brown rice syrup. Stir so the tempeh is well coated.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.