Spicy Tempeh Chips

Spicy soybean cake tempeh chips

What is tempeh? It is a fermented-pressed bean curd cake with whole soybeans. Tempeh is one of the most nutritious soy-based food products originated from our country. Although I have always found it really strange since soy is not really our country’s produce – most (if not all) of them are imported, no one can deny if it is Indonesian’s staple food item. It is sold in bars wrapped in plastic packaging. Tempeh is very affordable and requires not much work or time to be cooked. Just simple preparation and it can be consumed with plain steamed rice. It is the most down-to-earth food item, packed with calcium and protein.

And there aren’t many ways that I know of preparing tempeh. It is always deep-fried, deep-fried and deep-fried. One of my favorites is deep-fried with caramelized sugar and hint of hot chili. I would try to slice the tempeh as thinly and evenly as humanely possible. It should be fried till crispy and then mixed with caramelized sugar on stove top. Delicious!

Serve it with steamed rice or coconut rice (recipe here) or as snacks.

Indonesian spicy tempeh chips


Spicy Tempeh Chips

Makes 4 servings


250 grams tempeh (Indonesian soybean cake), sliced thinly
1 cup cooking oil
5 grams ginger, sliced thinly
5 red chilies, sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar


Heat oil in a wok and deep-fry tempeh slices till dry and crunchy, about 8 to 10 minutes
Remove some of the oil and leave only two tablespoons of oil in the wok, add ginger and stir-fry till fragrant
Add chilies, lime juice and sugar. Cook till the sugar melted and becomes bubbly over high heat
Toss in tempeh chips and cook for a couple of minutes till chips covered with caramelized sugar
Remove from heat and serve with rice

Step by Step

How to deep-fry tempeh chips

Deep-fry the chips with lots of oil till golden color and crunchy

How to make spicy tempeh chips

Stir-frying chili, ginger and caramelizing sugar

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21 Responses to “Spicy Tempeh Chips”

  1. 1

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — October 12, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    Never get enough of tempe. Unfortunately, the tempe here has a different taste.

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 2:52 am

      Really? I have always thought tempe is kinda tasteless by itself. My brother loves them! He can have rice with tempeh only!

  2. 2

    Megan — October 12, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    Ohh yum, that looks delicious! I like to cut mine into chunks and use it in stir-fries, or marinate it and use it in burgers… but you’re completely right, it’s definitely best when it’s fried before using! :)

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 3:03 am

      Never tried tempeh burger. My mother would have loved it. She is in perpetual vegetarian mode :)

  3. 3

    Maya — October 14, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

    I adore tempeh – my mom makes just regular tempe chips but I am quite keen to try this recipe. How long will it keep?

    • Jun replied: — October 20th, 2010 @ 10:26 am

      Maya, this dish keeps for less than two days. Since they are not really cooked till dry. Some moisture is retained during cooking process, which makes it doesn’t keep well.

  4. 4

    Quay Po Cooks — October 14, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

    My hubby is a tempeh fan and I am sure he will be very please if I serve him this dish. Thanks!

    • Jun replied: — October 20th, 2010 @ 10:37 am

      Thank you for your comment! Maybe you would want to use less chili for him *wink

  5. 5

    Dhira — October 14, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    Thanks dear, gonna try this recipe real soon it seems very simple to do. thanks. you can change the sugar with brown sugar too

    • Jun replied: — October 20th, 2010 @ 10:38 am

      Yes! Brown sugar will give the tempe a different kind of sweetness! Excellent idea

  6. 6

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — October 15, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    But I heard tempe that is produced in Holland has the same taste as the Indonesian one. Growing up in different cities in Indonesia, I know every city has a different taste of tempe. I personally like tempe that is made in Probolinggo or Malang, not so much from Sidoarjo or Bogor.

    Speaking about burger tempe, again mom made it for the filling of choux pastry.

    • Jun replied: — October 20th, 2010 @ 10:39 am

      Really? Tempe for choux pastry filling? Wow!

  7. 7

    justine — October 19, 2010 @ 4:25 am

    I miss tempeh with sambal and sweet soy sauce!!!

    • Jun replied: — October 20th, 2010 @ 10:39 am

      Come home!

  8. 8

    Judy — October 23, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

    I love these pictures! They’re absolutely gorgeous. And it does much justice to delicious tempeh =) I never used to like it before, but then I tried one that was thinly sliced and deep fried, much like this, and it changed my perception forever. Love it.

    • Jun replied: — October 25th, 2010 @ 5:15 am

      Thank you, Judy! You always say the nicest thing!

  9. 9

    JC — October 26, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    Love the idea but all that oil negates some of the health benefits of tempeh.

    • Jun replied: — October 27th, 2010 @ 9:55 am

      Ironic, isn’t it? LOL. But it is tasty, so the horror of deep-frying in oil won’t disturb tempeh lover :)

  10. 10

    siany — August 25, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    great recipe! I wonder if I can replace the tempeh with tofu… I couldn’t find tempeh around here in France :(

  11. 11

    boohoo — April 4, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    Eat tempeh raw, actually very good. Also goes well with smoky type flavours like mesquite.

    • Jun replied: — April 4th, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

      We have never had tempeh raw. It is always deep-fried, as some of the micro-organism might not be safe to be eaten raw. The white moldy part of the tempeh has to be cooked thoroughly.

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