Chef's Recipes

Hot spicy fried tempeh sambal (Sambal goreng tempe)

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Hot spicy fried tempeh sambal (Sambal goreng tempe)

By Tony Tan
  • Serves 8
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking
Hot spicy fried tempeh sambal (Sambal goreng tempe)
Hot spicy fried tempeh sambal (Sambal goreng tempe)

Tempeh (or tempe) is cultured cooked soy beans sold in blocks. Considered purely of Indonesian origin, tempeh has a nutty flavour and is a great source of protein. It is most popular in Java.


  • 400 gm tempeh (see note), halved lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 4 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 10 gm galangal, thinly sliced (2cm piece)
  • ½ tsp shrimp paste, roasted
  • 2 tbsp dark palm sugar
  • 50 gm tamarind pulp, mixed with 200ml water, strained, solids discarded


  • 1
    Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 175C. Deep-fry tempeh in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper, set aside.
  • 2
    Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok over medium heat, add shallot, garlic, chilli, galangal and shrimp paste and stir-fry until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add palm sugar and stir over low-medium heat until dissolved (1-2 minutes). Add tamarind paste and deep-fried tempeh and stir frequently until sauce is reduced and caramelised (5-6 minutes). Season to taste and serve scattered with chilli to taste.


Note Tempeh is available from Asian grocers and some supermarkets. If unavailable, substitute firm tofu. Shrimp paste, known as terasi in Indonesia, is available from Asian grocers. It requires roasting before use: preheat oven to 200C, wrap shrimp paste in foil and roast until fragrant (5 minutes). Dark palm sugar is made from the coconut palm; in Indonesia it's called gula Jawa. This recipe is from the June 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

  • Author: Tony Tan