H from Melbourne writes:

“My work friends and I have been eating at Gopal’s Restaurant. We love it! Especially the tempe. Do you have a tempe recipe you can share? Is it available in any of your cookbooks?”

My reply: “Here’s one of my favourites”:

Grilled Tempe & Mixed Leaves with Black Bean Dressing

Tempe is a cheesy substance made by soaking and boiling soya beans, inoculating them with a fungus Rhizopus oligosporus, packing them into thin slabs wrapped in polythene (or banana leaves pierced with holes) and leaving to ferment. Tempe is easily digested, delicious and a great source of protein, and best fried for optimum taste and texture. Serves 4.

100g (4 ounces) snow peas,
1 Lebanese cucumber,
1 carrot, peeled,
50g (2 ounces), about 1 packed cup mesclun (mixed salad leaves),
50g (2 ounces), about 1 packed cup rocket leaves,
50g (2 ounces), about 1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts,
1/3 cup coriander leaves,
oil for deep-frying,
750g (1½ pounds) tempe, cut into long thin slices,
50g (2 ounces), about 2/3 cup snow pea sprouts,

2 tablespoons Chinese black beans,
½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder,
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger,
1½ tablespoons soy sauce,
½ teaspoons sambal oelek,
¼ cup olive oil,
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice,
2 teaspoons palm sugar, finely grated, or brown sugar,

Soak the black beans in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and chop finely.

Whisk the chopped beans with all the other dressing ingredients.

Blanch the snow peas in boiling water for 20 seconds, drain and refresh under cold running water, then cut into long thin strips.

Slice the cucumber and carrot into long thin strips by pressing firmly with a vegetable peeler

Combine the snow peas, cucumber, carrot, salad leaves, rocket, peanuts and coriander, and toss gently to combine.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok and deep fry the tempe slices until golden brown, then drain.

Serve: place salad mixture on serving plates, top with sliced warm tempe, drizzle with dressing and scatter with snow pea sprouts.

Life and Travel

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