Sure we don’t have a good affordable selection of vegan dairy or mock meat products in Singapore – but we have a protein that’s very amazing but often under appreciated and still rather unknown globally. Tempeh made fresh locally, the traditional Indonesian way of fermentation in a simpoh air leaf resulting in a soft white coat – so freshly fermented that it is still warm when you put your hand into the basket at our pasars (markets) in the morning. More digestible, more protein and fiber than tofu, all at 65 cents for a pack weighing roughly 80g. Note that it’s perfectly normal for traditional tempeh to have slight mold at the edges; simply pinch them off before cooking. Finish them asap as they will continue to ferment even in the fridge. Or you can heat them after buying if you plan to make them last longer.
As versatile as tofu, yet many eateries here sell the most unexciting version – merely deep fried with little seasoning. This simple recipe just needs mainly garlic and tempeh bits. Other than having an earthy tang on its own, tempeh absorbs and magnifies flavours of other ingredients. Those who don’t take garlic can still make it delicious with any taste – giving ingredient like spices and mushrooms.
Traditionally tempeh is cooked as slices but I think crumbling them gives more surface area to absorb more flavours. Good on its own or topped on anything from breads to rice. I made this recipe saltier to use as topping, hence reduce salt if having as a dish.
Garlic Tempeh Crumbles
roughly 80g tempeh crumbled into bits .
2 cloves chopped garlic .
1 tbsp of any vegetable cooking oil .
½ tsp salt, or to taste .
Ground black pepper, to taste .
Sauté garlic with oil in a pan over medium heat. Once you smell the garlicky aroma, add tempeh and salt (any longer may burn the garlic). Continue stirring until tempeh turns golden brown. Transfer to a plate, taste and season with more salt and pepper if preferred before serving.
Topped it on oats cooked in mushroom broth for a savoury breakfast! With celery stalks for a refreshing crunch in between the garlic and black pepper.
Here’s an idea for a non – garlic version – simply replace garlic with with 3 sliced white button mushrooms and half a lemongrass stalk. Equally good or even better with the juicy mushrooms!