Tempe Bacem - Javanese Sweet Marinated Tempe

Have you tried tempe or tahu bacem before?

tempe bacem

In this lovely Father's Day as well as the blessed holy month of Ramadhan, allow me to share one of my hubby's favorite recipes.

Tempe Bacem or Javanese Sweet Marinated Tempe, if I may freely translate it :).

Those who have been to Indonesia, particularly to Java,  might be familiar with this famous dish from my country. Owing to its exquisite sweet and bold taste, tempe and tahu bacem are surely loved by most of us, Indonesians.

Remember tempe?

I have passionately shared about this vegan food. Made of fermented soybean, tempe has surely stolen the hearts of Indonesian. You will definitely find various dishes using tempe in Indonesia. But even abroad, whenever you have Indonesians, there will always be ones who produce and sell tempe. Including here in NYC. Some of the tempe being sold here are made in New Jersey or Philadelphia. Every week, we have our own schedule at the nearest Indonesian groceries stores in Elmhurst, Queens. 

When we were in Melbourne, we have a steady suply of tempe as well, produced by some of the students there. In Geneve, we have a very nice and yummy tempe made in the Netherlands and somehow delivered to Geneve, Switzerland, every 2-3 months. 

So, that's a little story about tempe and now let's try our simple recipe today.
Usually, we cook tempe together with tahu or tofu, and even chicken, using the same spices and marinating sauce. But this time, I skip the tofu (and the chicken) and only have tempe.

it can be yummy snack, too :)


Spices to be ground:
Palm sugar
Shallot or red onion, thinly sliced
Kemiri or candle nut
Bay leaves - set it aside
Galangal - pressed 

How to cook:

There are several steps to go through while cooking tempe bacem.
First, we prepare the spices. As always, I enjoy grinding it manually using my traditional mortar and pestle that I brought from home :). It was actually my mom's and I cherish it dearly. Using it is like cooking in my mom's kitchen, so warm and cozy. 
So..back to the cooking.
let's grind it..
Once the spices are all ground, then we marinate and cook tempe together with all the spices. Put them all in a pot, add a half glass of water (or more if deem necessary) and bring to boil until all the spices are well absorbed by tempe. Some use coconut water to add the extra bold flavor but to me, water is enough.

Use low heat to avoid overcooking or burning the tempe because the marinate sauce is sweet. To have a bolder taste, I usually add sweet soy sauce. My favorite Indonesian brand is Bango and luckily, we can easily find it here in NYC. Cook it until the water is dried and the spices are well mixed.

And finally, once tempe is well cooked and looks brownish from the spices, we can deep fry it or bake it to make it crunchy. If you don't fancy frying it, you can eat it as it is, because it is basically well-cooked already.
Eat it together with a bowl of steamed rice and some fresh chili, if you like :).
Hope you enjoy it and till next recipe.

Check out more of my stories at #Steller :)


  1. Like always this looks really tasty.

    All I've made today is strawberry chips. They are from our garden. I don't have a dehydrator, so they were put on a pan, and in the dashboard of our car.

    1. that is interestingly made, Alissa :). I should try that strawberry chips! :)

  2. I have made a couple of tempeh recipes. Not your version though!

  3. One of my fave.. Tempe is perfect for any occasion:)

  4. I've never had tempe. It sounds interesting.

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  6. I love your recipes. I am such foodie myself, I love reading about things I have never tried and hoping that one day I will pluck up the courage and try making them!! Thank you for being such a fabulous co-host #OMHGWW, Evija xx

    1. Thanks Evija..And I am your fan as well! Your crafting skills are fantastic...great to co-host with you as well

  7. I have never heard of tempe before. I would really like to try it, though.

  8. You know, I have never had tempe before, but I am trying to cut down on meat consumption, so I will look for this at our grocers to try out soon. It sounds delish!

  9. Yes, I like it very much.
    Thanks for the recipe
    Warm regards from Surabaya

  10. HHmmm ... yummy ...
    I think, this recipe is also can be applied in traditional soya bean curd / tofu

    Shakehand me :)

  11. Good article! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing.



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