I have to be honest… vegan cuisine has always been a bit of a mystery to me in terms of how to make it, and more importantly, how to actually make it taste good. Give me bacon, butter, pasta and some really nice cheese and I could whip up something on the spot, but tofu and tempe is not my forte.
That being said, there’s no doubt that going meat-free every once in a while is a good thing, so I enlisted the help of Fivi Restika to wrap my head around plant-based cooking. Fivi has been on an almost total plant-based diet for the past few years, and she’s constantly experimenting with new ideas for vegan dishes.
Fivi recently invited me into her kitchen and demonstrated how to make this super easy tempe and tofu dish that makes use of classic Indonesian herbs and spices, and works great as an appetiser or even as a main course along with some rice. She also shared her homemade sambal recipe that adds a kick of colour and heat to the mix.
For those who don’t know much about tempe (don’t worry—you’re not alone!), tempe is an Indonesian staple that is made out of fermented soy beans. Here in Bali you can find it in any market or grocery store, usually wrapped in banana leaf. Outside of Indonesia, you can probably find it in any health food store.
There are more than a few awesome things about tempe. First off, it’s packed full of vitamins including Vitamin A, D, E, K, B1, B2, B6 and B12, as well as calcium, iron, protein and amino acids. Secondly, it’s easier for the body to digest the proteins and healthy fats in tempe than in tofu or other soybean products. Finally, the texture is pretty meaty, which means it’s pretty versatile and in our opinion a lot more satisfying than tofu.
OK, so now that we’ve given a few shout outs to how great tempe is, here’s Fivi’s version of Tempe Goreng and Tahu Goreng (goreng means fried in Bahasa Indonesia) and sambal. All up it’s pretty simple to make. Basically you just whip up the spices, throw the tempe and tofu in the marinade, and then fry them in coconut oil and you’re done. The sambal involves a bit more arm-work, as you have to grind up the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, but hey—a little bit of exercise never hurt anyone right?
Note: The sambal in this recipe has just hint of heat, but if you’re somewhat of a masochist when it comes to spicy food (hello—me!) then feel free to amp up the burn with more chilis.
For more healthy plant-based dishes, be sure to check Fivi’s Instagram feed @fivirestika!