BigFoot’s Mother’s Legendary Sambal Tempeh

This tempeh recipe is a bit of a legend, and is apparently one of the first things BigFoot wants to eat whenever he sees his mother. Apart from fish curry. Poor auntie, working so hard in the kitchen. She says she enjoys it though. She’s a really talented cook.

Uncooked tempeh is pretty gross looking Ready to chop

I’m in the process of trying to photocopy her recipe file, but haven’t succeeded yet (there are varying accounts relating to whether she even has a file or not). Supposedly most of the recipes don’t have written proportions next to them, so I’m not sure whether even getting a copy of her recipes would help me much given my ineptitude.

This is a bit undercooked, it needs to be browner and crispier

The recipe I want to steal the most is her chocolate cake recipe: it’s the best I’ve had since La Manila stopped selling theirs about 10 years ago (well it was a long time ago, I don’t know if it was 10 years ago…that seems like a long enough time to me. There used to be a thin golden layer in the middle of that cake, anyone know what it was??). I eat BigFoot’s mother’s chocolate cake out of a plastic box with a big spoon. I hid it in the back of the fridge so no one else can find it and eat it. Don’t tell anyone at home.

Sambal is almost cooked

Anyway, I specifically asked her for her tempeh recipe. Not for me, I’m not so nice. It’s so BigFoot can cook it himself and I can eat it. I do have standards, you know. Girl power and feminism, etc etc. Cooking is primarily for fun and to prevent deprivation / because I’m greedy, and I unfortunately don’t really enjoy spending 20 minutes flipping tempeh in a pan. It’s yummy though. Best persuade the party that craves it more to do that part.

It has a spicy, oniony, and satisfying flavour

It looks surprisingly easy considering its reputation. I was expecting something much, much more involved. Though tempeh always takes some time. However, the version we made last night didn’t taste at all like hers (I wasn’t joking, he actually did make it himself. I only operated the chopper). So yes, yummy tempeh recipe, but back to the drawing board clearly. Apparently if you add the dried prawns (we didn’t), it tastes more like the original.

BigFoot’s Mother’s Legendary Sambal Tempeh

BigFoot’s Mother narrated the recipe over breakfast, and I wrote it down. I’m not sure where she originally got it from, maybe she made it up. Note that I may have written it down completely wrong. Tastes good, anyway.

1 packet of tempeh – about 300g. I also chucked in a sliced potato because it felt lonely in the cupboard.
6 – 10 pieces dried chilli – depends how spicy you want it
1 – 2 pieces red chilli – the big ones. Again, add more if you want it spicier. Or add birds eye chilli too if you’re feeling brave. It doesn’t need it
1 large red onion, or 1.5 small red onions
4 – 5 cloves garlic
2 handfuls of ikan bilis
Asam jawa / Tamarind juice – crush a bit of the paste in a few tablesp of warm water, and add to taste. I crushed about 2cm in about half a cup of water, and added a few tablesp of that
Either: sugar to taste, OR about 2 tablesp udang kering blended with 1/4 cup vegetable stock – we used sugar, but it’s probably better with the prawns

  1. Throw the dried and fresh chilli, onion, and peeled garlic into the chopper. Chop chop nicely until it is relatively smooth. Pieces the size of those chilli flakes you get in the shops are ok. Add the udang kering (dried prawns) and vege stock here if you are using, and blend those too.
  2. Fry the ikan bilis with a little oil until it browns and your kitchen smells like fish. Set aside on kitchen paper.
  3. Cut the tempeh into little cubes, or slice it into pieces about 3mm thick. Fry with a little oil or grill these until they brown on all sides. Set aside on kitchen paper. A toaster oven is useful here, if you have one.
  4. Add about a tablespoon of oil to a wok, and fry the chilli – onion – garlic mixture. Keep going until it smells pretty fragrant and starts to brown. After it begins to brown, keep stirring or it’ll stick to the pan if you’re not careful.
  5. Taste. Add 2 tablespoons of the asam jawa liquid, discarding the seeds. Add a pinch of sugar. Taste. Repeat until it tastes good to you (we used about 5 tablespoons of asam jawa liquid, and about 1 teaspoon of sugar).
  6. Mix in the ikan bilis and tempeh.
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