I honestly think most tempeh dishes look and taste almost the same. You’d want to slice them as thinly as humanely possible. Then deep-fry them till golden and crunchy. Prepare the chili paste, as vibrantly and spicy as you can possibly handle. Stir-fry the paste using some oil, add sugar and cook till the paste turns brown and fragrant. Toss in the tempeh chips and coat them all with the chili paste. Yup, that sounds about right.

This dish has another stinky twist. The quite-literal stinky beans are added, together with potato chips. Unlike the usual crispy and spicy sambal tempeh, this is cooked into slightly chewy stir-fry. It is a nice improvisation on the otherwise pretty generic sambal tempeh.

Three main ingredients, one strand of stinky beans, some soybean cake, or tempeh and potatoes.

Spices for paste would be chilies, shallots, garlic, salam leaves, tamarind pulp and palm sugar (or gula merah/gula melaka)

Grind chilies, garlic and shallots in a mortar and pestle.

Grind to a paste, it can be as fine as you want or as coarse as possible. It ain’t make no difference.

Slice up tempeh, about 0.2 cm thickness.

Deep-fry tempeh slices in hot oil till crunchy.

They are done when they turn golden brown.

Slice potatoes into thin slices, preferably same size as tempeh.

Deep fry in hot oil.

Till they are nicely cooked and browned. They don’t need to be crisp.

Here’s the stinky beans, also known as petai or sataw beans. They are so pretty, it is amazing how stinky they are!

Stir fry the beans in hot oil for a couple of seconds, until they fluff up.

Toss in chili paste, salam leaves and lemongrass into the wok. Stir-fry till the bright red chili paste turns darker color.

Pour tamarind and palm sugar mixture into the wok.

Let them simmer.

Season the mixture with kecap manis or sweet soy sauce.

Let boil for a bit longer, till the liquid slightly evaporates.

Toss in potato slices and tempeh chips.

Mix well until everything is coated with chili sauce. Remove salam leaves before serving. Serve with steamed rice or grilled fragrant rice (nasi bakar)


Spicy Tempeh and Potatoes Stir Fry

Makes 4-6 servings


200 g tempeh, cut into small and thin slices
3 / 500 g potatoes, cut into small and thin slices
25 g sataw beans, or stinky beans
30 g red chilies
3 shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
5 Indonesian salam leaves
1 lemongrass, cut into half
50 g palm sugar, or gula merah/gula melaka
1 tsp / 5 g tamarind pulp
2 cups water
2 tbsp kecap manis
1/4 cup cooking oil, for stir-frying
Cooking oil for deep frying tempeh and potatoes


Dilute gula merah and tamarind pulp in water. Set aside for later use.
Deep fry potato slices and tempeh chips till golden and crunchy.
Grind chilies, garlic, shallots and salt in a mortar and pestle to fine paste.
Heat cooking oil in a wok and stir-fry stinky beans over medium heat for 30 seconds of less.
Add chili paste, salam leaves and lemongrass into the wok. Stir-fry till the chili paste turns slightly darker, about one minute.
Pour sugar and tamarind mixture into the wok. Add kecap manis. Simmer for 2 minutes, keep stirring.
Add tempeh and potato chips into the wok. Stir well.
Serve with warm rice.

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12 Responses to “Spicy Tempeh and Potatoes Stir Fry”

  1. 1

    mycookinghut — March 17, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I am bookmarking to try!!

  2. 2

    Ju — March 17, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    I eat tempeh everyday! That’s how much I love it. And your dish is simply amazing. I’m looking at the ingredients, and the layers of flavours must be mindblowing.

  3. 3

    Maria @ Scandifoodie — March 17, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

    Not sure if I could handle quite so much heat, but this is perfect, I even have some tempeh in the fridge waiting to be used!

  4. 4

    Min {Honest Vanilla} — March 18, 2011 @ 12:10 am

    I’m honestly not a fan of tempeh but I always love your photos on each ingredients! They are soooo appetizing! Even with tempeh :P

  5. 5

    Helena — March 18, 2011 @ 6:07 am

    Thank you so much :) You’re my favorite person right now! I really like your blog too (love the pictures!), but I’m not a good cook. I clearly need to change that, and this dish looks great. I’m off looking for some vegetarian reicpes now :)

    Oh and about the malted milk powder, I just googled it and it says on Wikipedia that Horlick is one brand of malted milk powder. I don’t know it though, seeing that we don’t have the same brands over here.

    - Helena :)

  6. 6

    dinewithleny — March 18, 2011 @ 6:21 am

    woahhh…speechless…. looks too delicious. feel like eating this now hahaha

  7. 7

    crustabakes — March 18, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

    oh yum! i have always loved spiced and caramelised tempeh, potato chips. I grew up watching the adults eat those stinky beans and was always drawn to the stinky smell, but never found the courage to pop one into my mouth. It was only when i got older that i began to accept it as part of my diet!

  8. 8

    Eva — March 18, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    I’ve never experimented with tempeh before, but looking at this definitely motivates me to give it a try. The photographs are just gorgeous, too :)

  9. 9

    Lily G — March 19, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try to make this, but I thought that it was too complicated. You make it easy to understand and follow. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I’ll make this tomorrow..:)

  10. 10

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — March 21, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    okay kill me if you had to but I didn’t even know what tempeh is until your post and I read up on it. This looks great. I need to try Indonesian food. I really want to!

  11. 11

    Ally — April 14, 2011 @ 2:11 am

    I am always on the lookout for good tempeh recipes and this looks like something I definately have to cook! I love you use of step by step photos (I wish I had that much effort when I was preparing dinner) and I’m eyeing off that beautiful serving bowl you have in the first pic, it’s gorgeous!

  12. 12

    Marisa — July 2, 2014 @ 1:40 am

    wow, look amazing.
    Thank you for sharing a good article to us.
    I hope i can make Spicy Tempe at home.

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