Indonesian sambal tempeh, aka tempe goreng sambal is savory, spicy yet super addicting ! This healthier version is also vegan & easy to make.
For those of you who dont know, tempeh actually originated from Indonesia and this dish is one of the most popular Indonesian dish ! Crispy tempeh is cooked in a sweet and savory sauce with a kick from the sambal.
Traditionally, sambal tempeh are deep-fried before using. But in this blog post, I also included instructions on pan-frying for those of you who are looking for a healthier version / make it oil-free.
🌶 What is sambal
Originated from Indonesia, sambal is mainly made from freshly grounded chili peppers ( normally red chilis ) together with salt and vinegar. Oftentimes, other secondary ingredients like onion, garlic, lemongrass and shrimp paste.
For my fellow vegans out there, do check out the ingredients list as shrimp paste / belacan may be added in it. I recommend using this Huey Fong Sambal Oelek as it happens to be vegan.
I actually make my own from scratch ! If you do have extra time on hand, try making your own and you will find that it will taste better and fresher than any store bought ones. I loosely followed this easy vegan sambal and used enough water to blend instead of oil.
🍅What you will need
🔪How to make
Start by cutting the tempeh into ¼ inch thick strips.
As per above mentioned, you can pre-cook the sambal by deep-frying or pan-frying .
Heat up about 1 inch of oil in a medium skillet / pan. When the oil is hot, gently place in the tempeh using a spoon to avoid the oil from splashing out.
Cook for about 2-4 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, drain the tempeh and place them immediately on a plate lined with paper towels / absorbent paper.
To pan-fry ( oil-free version included )
Heat up about ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan / cast iron skillet. Place the tempeh in one layer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
Set aside the cooked tempeh. Heat up a pan ( feel free to use the pan from just now) , place in the chili paste and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Then, add in the tomato paste, coconut sugar and soy sauce together with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir until everything is mixed evenly, then add in the tempeh.
Stir until tempeh is thoroughly coated with the sauce, then turn off the heat. Serve and enjoy !
🍴How to serve
- Pair them with some fluffy and fragrant coconut rice.
- Serve it with some salad like this crunchy thai quinoa salad or kale salad with vinaigrette if you are craving something lighter or more refreshing.
- Or, just served them with some fluffy brown rice !
❔Commonly asked questions
Most of the bitterness from the tempeh can be removed by steaming them before using. This can be done by fitting a steamer basket into a pot with a few inches of water.
Alternatively, fill a pan or skillet with about 1 inch of water and bring it to a boil.
Then , place the whole block of tempeh in and steam for about 12-15 minutes. Drain and pat it dry using paper towels.
🍽More Asian-inspired vegan dinners
- Vegan Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Veggies
- Vegan Asian Broccoli Mushroom Stir-fry
- Healthy Indian Tofu Stir-fry
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Indonesian Sambal Tempeh ( Tempe Goreng Sambal )
- Cut the tempeh into ¼ inch thick strips.
- Preheat 1 inch of oil in a medium skillet / pan. Line a large plate with paper towels or absorbent papers.
- When the oil is hot, gently place in the tempeh using a spoon / tongs to avoid the oil from splashing out.
- Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
- Drain with a slotted spoon and place them on the lined plate.
To pan-fry ( oil-free version included )
- Place the tempeh in 1 single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip, then cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
Cooking the tempeh
- Heat up ½ tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan / cast iron skillet. ( Omit oil to make it oil-free). Add in the sambal paste and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Add in the tomato paste, soy sauce and coconut sugar together with 2 tablespoons of water into the pan. Stir until everything is well mix , then add in the tempeh.
- Toss until tempeh is well coated then turn off the heat. Serve and enjoy !
- Tempeh can last in the fridge for up to 3 days
- Nutrition facts calculated is based on the pan-frying method.