Thursday, 2 May 2013

Indonesia..Home of my New Favourite Meat Alternative!!

In light of my recent arrival to Bali, Indonesia (my New Home!) I thought I would share a little of what I have learned about a tasty meat alternative that the Indonesians (and many other Asian citizens) have been using to help meet their protein needs for hundreds of years.  It's pretty new to the Western Foodie/Health Nut-scene but has been recently been increasing in its' popularity and is becoming more widely available too! ..have you guessed what it is yet??

If you guessed Tempeh, then you would right on the money!

Tempeh, which originated on the island of Java in Indonesia, is a meat analogue prepared by soaking, then cooking and lastly fermenting soybeans, which are then formed into a patty (similar to a veggie hamburger patty you would find at your local grocers).  It has a Protein content of approximately 18g per 100g serving (depending on brand of course), is high in iron and calcium (perfect for all the lactose-intolerant folks out there!), cholesterol-free and has natural nutty flavour all on its' own!

Did you get held up on the Fermentation process?  I know the word can have a tendency to freak people right?  Don't worry, Tempeh is only fermented for 24-36 hours, this process causes Rhizopus Oligosporus to form, which aids in digestibility, absorption of minerals, and contains a naturally-forming antibiotic agent which staves off intestinal infections!  Besides have you ever left a half filled pizza box sitting out on the counter overnight to be consumed the next eve (my Husband does this ALL the time!), well at least this fermentation process occurs in a more controlled environment and closely watched by Tempeh production workers...and I think far less likely to cause food poisoning than the latter scenario.  Actually in Indonesia, 'ripe' Tempeh, which in their opinion is 2 or more days old is considered a Delicacy! On a more serious note though, there have been some cases of food poisoning from unpastuerized Tempeh, which should be treated and prepared as you would a meat product.. to read more about whether consuming this form of Tempeh is safe feel free to click this link

Many people get confused about the differences between Tofu and Tempeh, because they are both Soy-based Products, see below for a a little comparison!

How does Tempeh stack up to its' more widely known Soy Product Counterpart??

Tempeh - made from cooked and fermented whole soybeans
             - natural nutty, earthy flavour
             - soy carbohydrates make it more easily digestible than Tofu
             - has a higher Protein, Fibre and Caloric Density than Tofu
             - generally less processed than Tofu
Tofu - made by curdling fresh hot soy milk with a coagulant
        - tasteless, unless marinated with something or cooked with something else

Check out this link for more deets on how Tempeh stacks up against its' Soy-Cousin!

For more info on how to prepare your Tempeh and how to use it in recipes see these links, I personally can't wait to try the 'Tempeh Curry' Recipe!

My hope is that after reading this post, you may give Tempeh a try (if you haven't already).  It is a Delicious (and Nutritious!) way to spice up your next Meal!

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links:


  1. I had no idea that tofu was made from curdled soy milk and not the bean! Good to know. Fermentation is fabulous for the gut, would love to try Tempeh! Where is it usually available?

  2. Laura, you can find Tempeh in most grocery stores now, look in and around the produce section (with the tofu and other 'veggie-friendly' products or if they have a natural foods section you can check there. It needs to be refrigerated so it will be kept in a cooler at the grocer.