Indonesia Eats

Sambal Tumpang (Javanese Old Tempe Sambal)


Tempe or tempeh is an Indonesian soybean cake. In order making sambal tumpang, you need tempe semangit. Semangit is derived from a word “sangit” which is meant less pleasant odour. A word “semangit” usually is followed after a word “tempe”, and known as Tempe semangit. What is tempe semangit and is it different from tempe?

Tempe semangit can be categorized as an old or rotten tempe. What did I mean by old or rotten tempe? First of all, I will explain briefly the process on making tempe. You will need cooked soybeans, then add Rhizopus, a mold that helps soybeans to ferment for 24 hours. When the fermentation process is done, it binds the soybeans into a compact white cake. According my internet research, it will take more than 24 hours to ferment cooked soybeans into tempe in North America; it’s about 36-48 hours.

Tempe is a protein alternative resource for vegetarians or vegans. Back when I was in Indonesia, tempe is a cheap protein resource and totally different since I moved to Canada; tempe becomes an expensive protein choice. Tempe is not only rich in essential amino acids, it is also high in vitamin B12.

When the tempe has undergone the fermentation more than a day and untreated, it will be overly ripe or rotten and known as tempe busuk or semangit because the smell is dreadful. But it doesn’t make the tempe become useless. The Javanese seeks and uses it for cooking sambal or adding to a vegetable dish. Please see closely the different profile of tempe and tempe semangit.

Tempe & Tempe Semangit
The one on the right hand corner of each photo is tempe semangit
There are two places in Java that claimed Sambal Tumpang as their dish, Kediri (East Java) and Solo (Central Java). However, both places have a slightly different way in the recipe and serving. In Central Java, sambal tumpang is added with other protein resources such as beef, tofu as well as vegetables (“it tastes better with petai – stinky beans” said my friend Haley) while in East Java this sambal is pure made from a combination of 75% old tempe and 25% fresh/frozen good tempe. In this post, I will include the Eastern Javanese way for sambal tumpang.

In East Java, sambal tumpang is drizzled over pecel (Java style salad with peanut sauce). On the other hand, in Central Java, sambal tumpang is a side dish that is eaten with warmed cooked rice and boiled vegetables; no pecel to company.

Sambal Tumpang
– Java Style Old Tempe Sambal –

Ingredients:
200 g tempe semangit (use fresh or frozen tempe if you can’t find tempe semangit)
1 cm galangal, bruised
2 Indonesian bay (salam) leaves
200 ml coconut milk
1 cup (250 mL) water

Spices to be ground:
45 g peeled shallots
5 g peeled garlics
1 cm peeled kencur/kaempeferia galangal (substitute for 1/2 tsp kencur powder)
6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1 tsp toasted coriander seed
1/2 tsp terasi/dried shrimp paste (optional)
1 candlenut (substitute for macadamia nut)
3 red cayenne peppers (Indonesian: cabe merah keriting)
1 bird eye chili
seasalt

Methods:
1. Pound or chop tempe semangit with a pestle or a chopper.

2. In a pot, add pounded tempe, ground spices, salam leaves, galangal and water. Cook until a boil. Then turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 -10 more minutes or until the spices absorb.

3. Add coconut milk, stir occasionally and bring to re-boil. Remove from the heat. Serve with pecel and warm cooked rice.

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37 thoughts on “Sambal Tumpang (Javanese Old Tempe Sambal)”

  1. I have always enjoyed tempe when I was younger but I did not know much about then other than being tasty when cooked with some spices, chili and diced green beans. That dish was common in the Malay rice stalls back in Singapore. It was only recently that I knew more about tempe and started cooking it too.

  2. Cooking Gallery

    I think I have never tried this, you have so many cool Indo recipes…:)!! And I just passed you on an award, please feel free to pick it up from my blog :)!

  3. I have always enjoyed tempe when I was younger but I did not know much about then other than being tasty when cooked with some spices, chili and diced green beans. That dish was common in the Malay rice stalls back in Singapore.

    It was only recently that I knew more about tempe and started cooking it too.

  4. This is indeed a favorite in Kediri. The funk from the overly ripe tempe is a little more than I care for personally, but my wife and her family certainly like it.

  5. Cooking Gallery

    I think I have never tried this, you have so many cool Indo recipes…:)!! And I just passed you on an award, please feel free to pick it up from my blog :)!

  6. This is indeed a favorite in Kediri. The funk from the overly ripe tempe is a little more than I care for personally, but my wife and her family certainly like it.

  7. @Tigerfish: I heard tempe in the Netherlands has the same exact taste to the one in Indonesia. Unluckily, I haven't found the same taste of tempe here unless the homemade tempe which is meant I have to make ones or order from somebody.@CG: I tried to make an archive of Indonesian recipes. Thanks for the award.@Ju: let me know how it turns out@Rita: tempe semangist does smell like a rotten tempe. LOL@Sijeleng: I understand what you meant. My husband is the same with you.@TasteHongkong: To be honest, I never try it for a toast. If you do try it,you will have a svaoury toast. Let me know!@Penny: there is another recipe of pounded tempe in this blog@Pigpigscorner: you may need to find some healthy stores in UK or order them from Holland.

  8. @Tigerfish: I heard tempe in the Netherlands has the same exact taste to the one in Indonesia. Unluckily, I haven't found the same taste of tempe here unless the homemade tempe which is meant I have to make ones or order from somebody.

    @CG: I tried to make an archive of Indonesian recipes. Thanks for the award.

    @Ju: let me know how it turns out

    @Rita: tempe semangist does smell like a rotten tempe. LOL

    @Sijeleng: I understand what you meant. My husband is the same with you.

    @TasteHongkong: To be honest, I never try it for a toast. If you do try it,you will have a svaoury toast. Let me know!

    @Penny: there is another recipe of pounded tempe in this blog

    @Pigpigscorner: you may need to find some healthy stores in UK or order them from Holland.

  9. blackbookkitchendiar

    this dish looks very appetizing..i really love anything spicy. thank you for sharing this. ps:i love the small copper pot..it's so pretty.

  10. blackbookkitchendiaries

    this dish looks very appetizing..i really love anything spicy. thank you for sharing this. ps:i love the small copper pot..it's so pretty.

  11. hi , my name is Amita Buissink and I have photo of Tempe Bosok for you to post with your exellent blog on sambal tumpang!pls let me know where to sent it.I have a small tempeh making business and also sell etmpeh making kits .pls visit http://www.temep-tofu.com for more info.thanks Amita and keep up the good work!

  12. hi , my name is Amita Buissink and I have photo of Tempe Bosok for you to post with your exellent blog on sambal tumpang!
    pls let me know where to sent it.
    I have a small tempeh making business and also sell etmpeh making kits .
    pls visit http://www.temep-tofu.com for more info.
    thanks Amita and keep up the good work!

    1. Hope you can find a good tempe in your area as I couldn’t find the one that taste like tempe in Indonesia unless I have to make it by myself or some Indonesians make the homemade one. However if you go to the Netherland, you’ll find a good tempe and taste just like tempe in Indonesia.

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  16. lanasalahuddin

    i was telling my hubby about this delicious recipe, but as soon as he heard word-rotten tempe-…he definitely, refuse more conversation w me…and remind me do NOT feed our babies w this crazy indonesian dish…..beside i cant explain it completely, should i show him this site…thx

    1. Well it’s just a word. Cheese is also from rotten milk basically if we think about it 🙂 Since it is used microbial help to form it 🙂 Go head tell him about this site.

  17. Mbak Pepy its my favorite food, ga banyak orang yang tau makanan yang satu ini.. make me want to back my hometown

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