Oseng Oseng Tempe

Oseng Oseng Tempe

Like pasta for most people, tempeh is becoming for me one of those ready-to-cook ingredients that I like to keep on hand just for those occasions when I have nothing particular planned and need to throw together a fast and easy meal. But while it shares with pasta a versatility that can pair it with all kinds of sauces and seasonings, the traditional Indonesian fermented soybean product has the advantage of being rich in proteins.

Oseng Oseng Tempe Sauce

These crispy but chewy nutty little tempeh wafers in a tangy Indonesian tomato glaze take hardly any more time and effort than making a pot of macaroni and cheese, and are irresistibly delicious. Serve with some carbohydrates in the form of rice and some vegetables and you have a simple, tasty and complete meal.


Of course, as I like to remind my readers, the benefits of tempeh or any soy product can only be realized by finding brands that properly ferment the otherwise harmful soybeans — one of the most indigestible of all legumes because of their very high content of enzyme inhibitors and phytic acids which actually block the absorption of essential minerals and cause potential intestinal problems. Unfortunately, this rules out almost all tofu and soy milk products — in Western countries, these are almost universally manufactured through modern non-fermentation production methods that remove only some of the inhibitors and hardly any of the phytates, and denature the very proteins that are supposed to be of benefit in the first place. Tempeh, however, is more often than not produced through fermentation, but buyers should also look for a brand that properly inoculates the soy with Rhizopus culture and that is neither pasteurized nor pre-cooked. For Canadian readers, the tempeh from the Noble Bean is an excellent product.

Oseng Oseng TempeOseng Oseng Tempe
Recipe by
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Published on May 23, 2008

Chewy and nutty tempeh fried until crispy and coated with a tangy and spicy tomato glaze — an extraordinary and delicious simple light lunch or side dish

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

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  • 1 cup sesame oil or more as needed
  • 12 oz tempeh, cut into narrow 2-inch strips
  • 6 shallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons tamari (soy) sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Heat the sesame oil in a large wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add more sesame oil as necessary to raise the level to at least 1 inch. As soon as the oil is hot but not smoking, toss in the tempeh slices and sauté until a light golden color on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the shallots and continue to fry, stirring frequently, for another 10 minutes or until both the tempeh and shallots are brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

  • Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Place the tempeh and shallots in another bowl, and mix in the sauce to coat. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings


Anonymous said...

I have a lot of trouble with tempeh. I've tried it many ways and have never been impressed. This seems like something to try before completely giving up on it.

test it comm said...

I still haven't tried tempeh. That is some interesting info on soy products.

Lucy said...

Lisa, I've just started to go mad for tempeh - it's got a toothsomeness (is that a word?) that fills a 'spot' that nothing else, really seems to.

Delicious. The book sounds great, too.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely adore tempeh and am always on the lookout for new ways to use it--this one sounds fabulous! Noble Bean is my tempeh of choice, as well. I've heard about the issues with tofu, but have been told that cooking helps to alleviate some of the problems--but I've never heard about the distinction between Western and non-Western types. Yikes!

Johanna GGG said...

looks like a great quick dish - must try it sometime - I can imagine it would be great in summer with a good salad

Frances said...

looks like a great way of trying tempeh - i look forward to giving it a go. and i love sesame oil as well: what a great combo.

jasmine said...

Haven't knowingly tried tempeh yet, but this looks like a great, quick introduction.


LisaRene said...

Very informative post. I cook with tempeh on occasion but really should utilize it more often. I find it to be very filling, which is a good thing because I have a huge appetite :)

Neen said...

Thanks for the tips on purchasing tempeh, very very useful. I'm assuming that the Grains, Beans and Things store that you buy it from is some sort of Indie health store?

Lisa Turner said...

Neen, I'm not sure how to describe Grains and Beans actually. You would have to see it to understand. Not exactly a health food store in the way that we would often envision it. The owner, Conrad, is a traditionalist when it comes to food. He carries virtually no packaged foods and few supplements. He stocks organic grains, beans, dairy, herbs and spices, among various other fabulous foods. He is responsible for many of my dietary practices, including soaking grains, and it is also because of him that I stay away from tofu.

He is admirably principled - if he doesn't think people should eat something, he generally doesn't stock it.

Laura Paterson said...

Interesting post - I've never tried tempeh, but I will look out for it as this sounds really tasty...

Suganya said...

Tempeh is slightly expensive than tofu. But I prefer its nuttiness over the creamy texture of tofu.

eatme_delicious said...

Thanks for pointing out this recipe! =) I've never seen Noble Bean but will keep an eye out for it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great recipe! I substituted ketjap manis for the tamari sauce and it turned out great. We will be making it again.