An Introduction to Tempeh and How to make this Protein-Packed Noodle Salad

Protein salad


Today we introduce you to the wonder food, Tempeh. Traditionally wrapped in banana leaves, tempeh is a soy product that originated in Java, Indonesia. The earliest reference to tempeh was recorded in 1815.

Made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process, the whole soybeans in tempeh are bound together to form a solid. The resulting product is rich in protein, fibre, vitamins & minerals. Tempeh also has a very low glycemic index (GI) so is great for sustaining energy.

Tempeh in banana leaf
Tempeh is traditionally wrapped in banana leaf

In this blog post, we present you with a fresh, colourful and highly nutritious salad that will hopefully become a hit in your household. Teamed with a zingy and refreshing Asian-style dressing (recipe below), you’ll find yourself shovelling this salad into your mouth at a rate of knots. Eat it as a side dish or add some marinated tofu (recipe also below) or your favourite protein, and you have a salad that will satisfy the whole family.




Protein-Packed Noodle Salad with Zingy Asian Dressing


(serves 4 persons)

200g rice noodles or vegetable noodles (cook as per packet instructions)
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 C shredded carrot
1 C shredded purple cabbage
1 C edamame, cooked and shelled
1/2 C coriander, chopped

3/4 C of fried tempeh garnish (recipe below)
Asian-inspired salad dressing (recipe below)

salad ingredients
The simple salad ingredients, including vegetable noodles from Javara Indigenous Indonesia



  1. Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl
  2. Using your hands, combine all ingredients to ensure even distribution

3. Cover mixing bowl with cling wrap and place in fridge whilst you prepare dressing
4. Just before serving time, remove salad from fridge and toss through dressing to ensure thorough coating
5. Sprinkle a couple of hands-full of tempeh garnish and roasted peanuts (optional)



Tempeh garnish


1 packet tempe cut into small cubes
1 chilli sliced finely (seeds removed)
Kecap manis
Squeeze of lime
Vegetable oil for frying

tempeh fried ingredients
Main ingredients for Tempeh garnish



  1. Remove tempeh from banana leaf wrapping
  2. Rinse whole tempeh slab in fresh water and pat dry with paper towel
  3. Cut into small cubes and set aside
packaged tempeh
Tempeh purchased from our local supermarket. Ensure your tempeh is always refrigerated.

4. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan and add tempeh and fry until tempeh heated through
5. Add kecap manis, sliced chilli and squeeze of lime and continue to fry until flavour infuses into tempeh and tempeh cubes crisp up

6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toast for a few more minutes, moving the tempeh around the pan to ensure the sesame seeds do not burn
7. Set aside to cool

fried tempeh
Stored in an air-tight container, these tasty morsels can be kept in your fridge for a few days. Add them to salads for extra flavour, texture and nutrition.



Zingy Asian- style dressing


1/2 C lime juice
25ml fish sauce
1 ‘round’ of palm sugar (grated) – approx. 8tsp
1Tb finely chopped fresh lemongrass
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 1/2 Tb fresh ginger – finely julienned
10ml light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
5 kaffir lime leaves – finely shredded



  1. In a lidded jar, dissolve the palm sugar in the lime juice
  2. Add all remaining ingredients, fasten lid firmly and shake until completely mixed
  3. Store in fridge until needed


Marinated Tofu with Middle Eastern ‘Baharat’ Spice Blend

Visit Javara’s flagship store in Kemang Utara to stock up on all of your favourite Indonesian ingredients, including this spice blend, ‘Baharat’. It makes an excellent pantry staple.


1 packed Tofu (‘pillow’ style, not silken tofu)
1/2C Greek Yoghurt
1Tb Lemon juice
2-3 tsp Baharat spice blend (Javara Indigenous Indonesia – Chef Petty Elliott blend)
Vegetable oil for frying


1. Into a bowl place yoghurt, lemon juice and spice blend. Mix until fully combined

2. Chop tofu into triangles and add to bowl of marinade. Cover with cling wrap

tofu in spices
Marinating tofu

3. Refrigerate for a little while
4. Pour 1 – 2Tb of *vegetable oil into a frying pan and heat

5. Add tofu pieces carefully and lightly pan fry until a crunchy skin forms. Be sure to turn tofu pieces to achieve even cooking

6. Serve with Protein-Packed Noodle salad

baharat tofu
Noodle Salad with Baharat tofu

* Coconut – or Rice Bran oils are good options


Some interesting soybean facts

1. Soybeans originated in East Asia (possibly South East Asia) and were first domesticated by Chinese farmers around 1100 BC.

2. The earliest reference for the use of soybeans in Javanese cooking is found in a manuscript called, ‘Serat Sri Tanjung’, which dates back (roughly) to the 13th Century.

3. Soybeans are produced in greatest numbers in the USA and South America and as far as crops go, contain the highest protein per acre of land.

Fresh edamame are readily available at supermarkets in Jakarta

4. Did you know that edamame are in fact immature soybeans? – and although not as protein-rich as tempeh, edamame make for an excellent snack.

5. Did you know that you can add tempeh to all sorts of dishes? It can be cubed and skewered for kebabs, made into burgers, added to curries and soups.


tofu, edamame and tempeh
Three readily available soybean-based foods: Tofu, Edamame and Tempeh



Words: Jo Stevens   Photography: a journey bespoke

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