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Tempeh

Tempeh

Overview
Tempeh or tempe (Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

), is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 process that binds soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

s into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere
Sinosphere
In areal linguistics, Sinosphere refers to a grouping of countries and regions that are currently inhabited with a majority of Chinese population or were historically under Chinese cultural influence...

.

It originated in today's Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and is especially popular on the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, where it is a staple
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

 source of protein.
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Encyclopedia
Tempeh or tempe (Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

), is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 process that binds soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

s into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere
Sinosphere
In areal linguistics, Sinosphere refers to a grouping of countries and regions that are currently inhabited with a majority of Chinese population or were historically under Chinese cultural influence...

.

It originated in today's Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and is especially popular on the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, where it is a staple
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

 source of protein. Like tofu
Tofu
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...

, tempeh is made from soybeans, but tempeh is a whole soybean product with different nutrition
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

al characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

 give it a higher content of protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, dietary fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor
Flavor
Flavor or flavour is the sensory impression of a food or other substance, and is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. The "trigeminal senses", which detect chemical irritants in the mouth and throat as well as temperature and texture, are also very important to the overall...

 which becomes more pronounced as the tempeh ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine
Vegetarian cuisine
Vegetarian cuisine refers to food that meets vegetarian standards by not including meat and animal tissue products. For lacto-ovo vegetarianism , eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese are permitted...

; some consider it to be a meat analogue
Meat analogue
A meat analogue, also called a meat substitute, mock meat, faux meat, or imitation meat, approximates the aesthetic qualities and/or chemical characteristics of specific types of meat...

.

History



Tempeh originated in today's Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, probably on the island of Java. The earliest known reference to tempeh appeared in 1815 in the Serat Centhini [The Book of Centini]. Three detailed, fully documented histories of tempeh, worldwide, have been written, all by Shurtleff and Aoyagi (1985, 1989, and 2001).

Production



Tempeh begins with whole soybeans, which are softened by soaking and dehulled, then partly cooked. Specialty tempehs may be made from other types of bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s, wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, or may include a mixture of beans and whole grain
Whole grain
Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. Whole grains can generally be sprouted while refined grains generally will not sprout. Whole-meal products are made by grinding whole grains in order to make...

s.

A mild acid
Acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

ulent, usually vinegar
Vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

, may be added in order to lower the pH and create a selective environment that favors the growth of the tempeh mold over competitors. A fermentation starter
Fermentation starter
Fermentation starters are preparations to assist the beginning of the fermentation process in preparation of various foods and fermented drinks. A starter culture is a microbiological culture which actually performs fermentation...

 containing the spores of fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 Rhizopus oligosporus
Rhizopus oligosporus
Rhizopus oligosporus is a fungus of the family Mucoraceae that is a widely used starter culture for the home production of tempeh. The spores produce fluffy, white mycelia, binding the beans together to create an edible “cake” of partly fermented soybeans.Rhizopus oligosporus produces an...

is mixed in. The beans are spread into a thin layer and are allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature around 30 °C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 (86 °F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

). In good tempeh, the beans are knitted together by a mat of white mycelia.

Under conditions of lower temperature, or higher ventilation, gray or black patches of spore
Spore
In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa. According to scientist Dr...

s may form on the surface—this is not harmful, and should not affect the flavor or quality of the tempeh. This sporulation is normal on fully mature tempeh. A mild ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 smell may accompany good tempeh as it ferments, but it should not be overpowering. In Indonesia, ripe tempeh (two or more days old) is considered a delicacy.

Nutrition


The soy carbohydrates in tempeh become more digestible as a result of the fermentation process. In particular, the oligosaccharide
Oligosaccharide
An oligosaccharide is a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars, also known as simple sugars...

s that are 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
Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, vitamin B12 or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins...

 (though it is uncertain whether this B12 is always present and bio-available). In western countries, it is more common to use a pure culture containing only Rhizopus oligosporus
Rhizopus oligosporus
Rhizopus oligosporus is a fungus of the family Mucoraceae that is a widely used starter culture for the home production of tempeh. The spores produce fluffy, white mycelia, binding the beans together to create an edible “cake” of partly fermented soybeans.Rhizopus oligosporus produces an...

which makes very little B12 and could be missing Klebsiella pneumoniae
Klebsiella pneumoniae
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a Gram-negative, non-motile, encapsulated, lactose fermenting, facultative anaerobic, rod shaped bacterium found in the normal flora of the mouth, skin, and intestines....

which has been shown to produce significant levels of B12 analogs in tempeh when present. Whether these analogs are true, bio-available B12, hasn't been thoroughly studied yet.
The fermentation process also reduces the phythic acid in soy [needs citation], which in turn allow the body to absorb all the minerals that soy provides.

Preparation



In the kitchen, tempeh is often prepared by cutting it into pieces, soaking in brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 or salty
Edible salt
Salt, also known as table salt, or rock salt, is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride , a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts. It is essential for animal life in small quantities, but is harmful to animals and plants in excess...

 sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

, and then frying
Frying
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat, a technique that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, but the distinction is only made when needed. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g...

. Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone, or used in chili, stir frys, soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. Tempeh has a complex flavor that has been described as nutty, meaty, and mushroom-like. Tempeh freezes well, and is now commonly available in many western supermarkets as well as in ethnic markets and health food stores. 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 make it suitable for marinating. Dried tempeh (whether cooked or raw) provides an excellent stew base for backpackers.

Types

Name Description
tempe bacem tempeh boiled with spices and palm sugar, and then fried for a few minutes to enhance the taste. The result is damp, spicy, sweet and dark-colored tempeh.
tempe bongkrèk made from or with coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 press cake
Press cake
A press cake or oil cake is the solids remaining after pressing something to extract the liquids. Their most common use is in animal feed....

 (see below)
tempe bosok (busuk) rotten tempeh, used in small amounts as a flavoring
tempe gembus made from okara
Okara (food)
Okara or Soy Pulp is a white or yellowish pulp consisting of insoluble parts of the soybean which remain in the filter sack when pureed soybeans are filtered in the production of soy milk...

tempe gódhóng tempeh wrapped in banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

 leaves
tempe goreng deep-fried tempeh
tempe mendoan thinly sliced tempeh, battered and deep fried quickly resulting in limp texture
tempe kedelai simply tempeh, made from soybeans
tempe kering raw tempeh cut into little sticks, deep fried then mixed with spices and sugar, often mixed with separately fried peanuts and anchovies (ikan teri), this can be stored up to a month if cooked properly.
tempe murni tempeh made in plastic wrap without any additives such as grated raw papaya (lit. pure soybean cake)
tempe oncom also onchom
Oncom
Oncom is one of the traditional staple foods of West Javan cuisine. There are two kinds of oncom: red oncom and black oncom...

; made from peanut
Peanut
The peanut, or groundnut , is a species in the legume or "bean" family , so it is not a nut. The peanut was probably first cultivated in the valleys of Peru. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing tall...

 press cake
Press cake
A press cake or oil cake is the solids remaining after pressing something to extract the liquids. Their most common use is in animal feed....

; orange color; Neurospora sitophila


A new form of tempeh based on barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 and oats
OATS
OATS - Open Source Assistive Technology Software - is a source code repository or "forge" for assistive technology software. It was launched in 2006 with the goal to provide a one-stop “shop” for end users, clinicians and open-source developers to promote and develop open source assistive...

 instead of soya 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 soya beans.

Tempe bongkrèk


Tempe bongkrèk is a variety of tempeh from Central Java, notably Banyumas
Banyumas
Banyumas or "Banjoemas" is a regency in the southwestern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. Its capital is Sumpiuh.The term Banyumasan is also used as an adjective referring to the culture, language and peoples of larger Banyumas area...

 regency, that is prepared with coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

. This type of tempeh occasionally gets contaminated with the bacterium Burkholderia gladioli
Burkholderia gladioli
Burkholderia gladioli is a species of aerobic gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria that causes disease in both humans and plants. It can also live in symbiosis with plants and fungi and is found in soil, water, the rhizosphere, and in many animals...

, and the unwanted organism produces toxins (Bongkrek acid
Bongkrek acid
Bongkrek acid is a respiratory toxin more deadly than other mitochondrial poisons cyanide or 2,4-dinitrophenol. There was some dispute regarding the actual structure of bongkrek acid but this was resolved in 1973, which explains different structures appearing in the literature prior to this...

 and toxoflavin
Toxoflavin
Toxoflavin is a toxin produced by a variety of bacteria including Burkholderia gladioli. It also has antibiotic properties.Toxoflavin acts as a pH indicator, changing between yellow and colorless at pH 10.5....

) from the coconut, besides killing off the Rhizopus fungus due to the antibiotic
Antibiotic
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

 activity of bongkrek acid.

Fatalities from contaminated tempe bongkrèk were once common in the area where it was produced. Thus, the sale of tempeh bongkrèk is prohibited by law nowadays; clandestine manufacture continues, however, due to the popular flavor. The problem of contamination is not encountered with bean or grain tempeh, 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 that the product is safe. Tempe bongkrèk which is yellow is always highly toxic due to toxoflavin, but tempe bongkrèk with a normal coloration may still contain lethal amounts of bongkrek acid.

Tempe mendoan



A variation of tempeh cooking method, often found in Purwokerto
Purwokerto
Purwokerto is a city on the island of Java in Indonesia. It is the capital of Banyumas Regency, Central Java region. The estimated population of the city in 2005 was 249,705.-Geography:...

. The origin of the word mendoan is from Banyumas
Banyumas
Banyumas or "Banjoemas" is a regency in the southwestern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. Its capital is Sumpiuh.The term Banyumasan is also used as an adjective referring to the culture, language and peoples of larger Banyumas area...

 regional dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

, which means "to cook instantly in very hot oil", that results in semi-raw cooking 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.

Notations


  • Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi. 1979. The book of tempeh: A super soyfood from Indonesia. New York: Harper & Row (Colophon Books). ISBN 0-06-091265-0.
  • Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi. 1985. The book of tempeh. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press.
  • Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi. 1985. History of tempeh: A fermented soyfood from Indonesia. 2nd ed. Lafayette, California: Soyfoods Center. ISBN 0-933332-21-1.
  • Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi. 1989. Bibliography of tempeh and tempeh products: 1,416 references from 1815 to 1989. Lafayette, California: Soyfoods Center. ISBN 0-933332-47-5.


External links