Homemade Tempeh

Here is a recipe of tempeh given to me by a friend in Malaysia. Tempeh (or tempe) is a fermented food typically made from soya bean. It is very popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. Like tofu, tempeh is another basic ingredient prepared from soya bean. Tempeh is the result to the fermentation process of the bean, therefore it retains a higher content of dietary fibre and vitamins compared to tofu.

In Indonesia and Malaysia, one can buy both fresh and cooked tempeh dishes at almost everywhere. If you happen to visit one of these countries, look for those little food stalls by the road, or in a food court. You will find it cooked in various sauces and styles.


  • 500gm soya bean, rinsed and soaked for 24 hours
  • Rhizopus oligosporus culture (tempeh yeast) 2gm
  • Plastic bag (sandwich bag or freeze bag can be used)


  1. Once the bean is soaked, separate it from its husk by lightly rubbing it between the fingers in the water.
  2. Fill a saucepan with enough water and boil the beans for about 30 minutes.
  3. Drain away the water and put the beans back on to the heat.
  4. Heat it on low till to dry the beans further, till no obvious excess water is left. (be careful not to overheat it, as soya bean burns easily)
  5. Pour the cooked beans into a container that allows the beans to cool down easily.
  6. When the bean is cool, add in the tempeh yeast and mix well.
  7. Stuff it into the plastic bag till it is about 2 to 3 cm thick.
  8. Seal the bag with a heat sealer or candle flame (unless you are using a bag that comes with a sealer.
  9. Pierce the bag with a knife, in about 10 places on each side.
  10. Put it on to a stand or rack with holes on the base (eg. one that you use for putting hot dishes on) and keep it in a cabinet for about 24 hours.

Versatility Note:

  1. When keeping in the cabinet for fermentation, make sure there is enough air circulation for both sides of the bag.
  2. This recipe is used in South East Asia with an average temperature of about 32C. If you live in a country with lower temperature, you may want to prolong the fermentation for another 12 hours, or even another day.
  3. The colour of the tempeh may also differ due to different temperature. Some black or grey spores may occur but this is fairly normal and will not do any harm.
  4. For those who are not very familiar with tempeh, mature tempeh may give a slight ammonia smell. But as long as it is not sharp or overpowering, it is absolutely normal.