Sambal Tempe Penyet (Eastern Javanese Crushed Tempe Sambal)

I won’t try to spell tempeh since the correct one is tempe.

As I recalled tempe is one of the cheapest protein sources in Indonesia. It’s very different in Canada. Tempe is pretty expensive and can’t be found for purchased in every grocery stores, only certain stores such as Asian, Organic and Natural Products grocers.

The recipe that I’m going to post here, it’s one of street foods. It means you can find anywhere in Indonesia especially the Java island, the home of tempe.

It can be a vegan friendly by omitting terasi (Indonesian dried shrimp paste) or else, people whom are pesco-vegetarians still can consume this.

In the old post of this recipe, I mentioned that Indonesians almost eat everything with sambal. Sambal is a condiment used in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, made from a variety of peppers, although chilli peppers (red long chilies/cayenne peppers, green chilies, bird’s eye chilies) are the most common. Sambal is used as a condiment or as a side dish, and is sometimes substituted for fresh chillies; it can be very hot for the uninitiated. It is available at exotic food markets or gourmet departments in supermarkets in numerous countries.

Sambal Tempe Penyet
Crushed Tempe Sambal

300 grams tempe, cut as desired
1 cloves garlic, mashed until smooth
2 tsp ground coriander
EV coconut oil with fried garlics

3 cherry tomatoes (Indonesian: tomat sambal) -> I sometimes skip this to have a spicier flavour
3 red long chilies/cayenne peppers
5 bird’s eye chilies -> adjust this amount with your tastebuds
3 cloves garlic
2 cm kencur root (some people may name this as lesser galanga, but it is totally different another proper name is kaempferia galanga)
1/2 tsp terasi (Indonesian dried shrimp paste), toasted or stir fry
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar


1. In marinating bowl, add mashed garlic ground coriander, salt and water and mix it well. Immerse the cut tempe in the bowl and marinate for 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and bake until golden brown with a small amount of EV coconut oil. The Indonesian way, deep fry it with oil under medium heat until golden brown.

2. Roast all sambal ingredients except salt and sugar until done. Then, transfer them a mortar, add salt and sugar and grind them with a pestle. Use a food processor if no mortar and pestle.

3. Combine sambal, baked tempe and a bit oil from the leftover of tempe’s baking or frying.

4. Press or crush the cooked tempe with a pestle to give a “penyet” look. No mortar and pestle? Use a spoon to crush them.

5. Transfer to a serving plate or serve just like the Indonesian way with the mortar.  The Indonesian mortar has a different style with Mexican or Thai one.

About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.