I have a newfound love and it’s called tempeh. Somewhat like cheese, tempeh is soybeans that have been fermented with a fungus to give it that white cake-like structure. It is often used as a meat substitute and is quite versatile. You can stir fry it, bake it, deep fry it and serve it on its own or as part of a meal. Some people even use it as a veggie burger patty!
While this was hard to find in Europe – I was tempted to buy a tempeh kit and make my own – and only Malay sellers stock these (forget about trying to find them at a Chinese veg stall) in Singapore, wet markets here in Penang sell plenty of these 100 gm cakes…yes, even at the Chinese veggie stall. You can also find them at hypermarkets like Giant and Tesco. They don’t cost much…in fact, a cake goes for about RM1.50 to RM2.
Prepwork is easy with tempeh. There is no need to wash the cake; just remove from the packaging, cut the cake into whatever size you want it to be in and fry it with anything – onions, diced garlic, sambal, chilli…it’s up to you, really. Some people like theirs hard and crunchy (you’ll probably have to shallow fry or deep fry it) but that’s too much work and too much oil so I just stir fry mine with some spicy sambal and four angle beans (also known as winged beans) – another favourite veggie that is common in Malay cuisine but not so much in Chinese cuisine.
Taste-wise, tempeh is a little bit nutty and earthy – somewhat like eating mushrooms with peanuts! If you fry yours like mine and with similar vegetables, you’ll find that the soft texture of the tempeh goes well with an added crunch from the four angle beans. Oh, if your kids are not adverse to this, you can make it kid-friendly and fry up some with some minced garlic and hey presto, a quick and easy side dish!