Indonesian Tempe ( Fermented Soybean )

After that black bean burger last week for meatless monday , it got me thinking , it would be nice to have other option just from having beans or tofu as a protein source . It would be nice if i can make Tempe again . I’ve done it back in 2018 . My mom would have been laughing , either that or would be so proud of me , because my mom never made tempe herself . Tempe is widely available in the country i was born . It was sold everywhere at the market , sometimes you don’t even have to leave your house and there is a man with a bike going around our neighborhood selling fresh tempe . Yes they’re so fragrant , so warm , wrapped up in banana leaves , white and smooth looking !!!

Not until i made it myself which took about 20 something years later to realize that tempe is fermented soybean . Duh ! You’re eating moldy soybean . I thought it was quite interesting . As Indonesian , I never cared to learn back then on how things were made , especially these are things i grew up with , we ate tempe and tofu literally almost everyday . When you didn’t have much money to spend on meat like chicken and beef , you bought a lot of fish and vegetables , which tofu and tempe fell under this category . Back then we use tempe to make a lot of dishes , if i had to choose , i actually prefer the taste of tempe than tofu . Us , Indonesians , are so good making healthy things to be not so healthy , for example , tofu and tempe are healthy food , but we love to cook this by deep frying them , yes with tons of oil .. LOL , but that’s what makes it delicious though , everything fried is yummy . I have nothing against deep fried food , just can’t do it too much obviously . Plus i hate messy kitchen .

Quinoa with ‘ Oseng Tempe’

Anyway , back in 2018 when i made Tempe for the first time , i had 2 packages of the culture starer left . I looked around my panty and found two packets left,  except it was expired , the best date was last year . I didn’t want to waste my organic soy bean using the starter i wasn’t sure about . So i ordered a new package . Although , come to think of it , look at the sourdough starter , i have no expiration date on those , of course i made it myself but when i dried them , i didn’t even think how long it’s been staying in my pantry in the cool and dark area , i was still able to revive it and used it to produce a good bread . I wasn’t as brave with this tempe starter as i was with sourdough i guess .

Starter for tempe came couple days ago . I bought it from amazon . The organic soybean ,  i bought a while ago from local Asian Market . I haven’t seen them in regular grocery store , but you might be able to find them there too .

The first step on making Tempe is to soak the soybean . Organic soybean i bought a while ago also has expiration date 2018 , but seriously .. dry beans .. it will stay dry and plus it was vacuumed sealed . So i still soaked the beans overnight . I used 4 cups of dry soybeans , i put them in a large bowl and fill it up with plenty of water . The beans will look totally different by morning , kinda plump up overnight , that’s why make sure using a large bowl and plenty of water . 

The next morning , i started dehulling them , this is exactly the fun part .. my favorite past time , NOT REALLY . I really dislike dehulling beans , to me , this part is very time consuming . I massaged the beans for 5 minutes and the outer layer of the beans supposedly would float and then i can use a strainer and get rid of the water and repeat this whole process . Except i had to repeat this so many times , not fun at all . Think of it this way , your goal is to split the beans . Yes , All of them !

The next step is to boil these beans . Add water and bring it to boil , then turn it to low heat and keep boiling these beans for approx 1 hour . Then drain the beans , get rid of the water , i use colander . And spread the beans on 2 cookie sheets , the goal here is to dry them . I used the help of my hair dryer to make sure they’re totally dry on all side . You cannot have any moisture while mixing the beans with the culture / starter . So , make sure the beans are 100% dry , whether you pat it dry , or using blow dryer .

On to the next step , i mixed the white distilled vinegar all over the beans and once it’s all mixed well , i added 2 packages of the starter , and again mixed well .  Then i put the beans in a ziploc bag , and about 1.5 inch thickness , and then using toothpick , i poked holes everywhere , about 1 inch apart all over the ziploc bag . About the holes , if you have pin needles , i would use it to make holes all over FIRST before placing the beans in the the ziplog bag . Same thing , about 1 inch apart holes everywhere on the ziploc bag . I did this the first time i made tempe and actually tempe has less gray spot compared to making holes after placing the beans in and using toothpick to make holes . Once the beans are placed in the ziploc bag , i placed them on a cookie rack .

The soybeans need warm temperature to get started . So you must choose a warm area in your house , whether it is in the garage or on top of heat source or any room that is warmer . The temperature needs to be at least between 80 F and 90 F . The first 12 hours , the beans need to have the heat source to get the starter going . I chose to place mine in the garage originally , but the garage wasn’t warm enough , so i chose my oven with the proofing feature , i set temperature to 87 F , took me few minutes to warm that oven to 87 F and then i shut it off . After the first 12 hours the soybeans should be able to generate its own heat . After 24 hours , temperature climbed up even higher until it finished fermenting , my temperature climbed up close to 100 F , without any heat source .

After 24 hours , the fermentation process is going to be really fast and although it can take up to 48 hours , mine didn’t take that long to finish its fermentation process . Check often after 24 hours .

30 hours later , i decided to call it done , because i started seeing gray / black spots around the area i made the holes . Don’t freak out when seeing this , it’s quite normal actually . As long as it’s firm , not watery or slimy , and smells good like nutty , mushroomy smell , that means it’s done . You’ll see white mostly all over the surface , and black / gray spots here and there . I probably can call it finished fermenting by 28 or 29 hours . My temperature actually went up well above 100 F by 30 hours , so you’ll know when it’s done . Firm , hold its shape , smells good like mushroom and nuts and white stuff all over the beans are the sure signs it’s finished fermenting . I unwrapped them , let it cool a little bit and wrap it back and store it in the fridge . I would use it within few days , if you can’t use them all , i would freeze them , and thaw it out like meat , when you ready to use them .

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.