Finished tempe goreng

How to Make Tempe Goreng in Sambal Kecap Sauce

In this post, I’d like to teach you how to make tempe goreng. This is one of my favorite alternatives to meat, use it in case you want to make a vegan or vegetarian version of your favorite dish! I would categorize this recipe as a side dish that is fairly easy to make, cheap and very delicious.

To make tempe goreng, simply cut up some tempe and fry it in lots of oil! Super easy and very tasty when combined with the sambal kecap sauce I made.

Tempe is a type of fermented soy beans, often used in Indonesian cuisine. The beans are wrapped in plastic and fermented by adding a specific fungus to the beans. A high in protein cake forms which thanks it’s structure to the fungus, really amazing when deep fried.

Let’s get started on how to make tempe goreng: 

Step 1: Choosing the ingredients

Obviously, we will use tempe for our tempe goreng. Goreng simply means ‘to fry’. However I will add an extremely tasty and authentic sauce that you can implement so that the dish is a lot more stand alone regarding flavor. Another option is to marinate the tempe beforehand, I will save this for another post.

Finished tempe goreng

Tempe goreng with sambal kecap sauce

Tempe goreng! My favorite vegetarian source of protein to complete a variety of dishes! Enjoy.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4 sides


  • 400 g tempe
  • 100 ml cooking oil

Sauce ingredients (optional)

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce)
  • (Homemade) sambal to taste


  • Choosing the ingredients
  • Frying the tempe
  • Making the sauce
Keyword Tempe goreng

What to consider when choosing your ingredients

Regarding the sauce, the ingredients I summed up will give you a really nice authentic taste. However, in case you have not made a sambal yet yourself, definitely check out my sambal badjak or other sambal you prefer to combine in this recipe.

Alternatively, you can try the store bought sambals, you will however have less control to create a high quality dish!

You can also experiment with some spices instead of the sambal badjak, like smoked paprika powder, chilli powder, black pepper. Keep the kecap manis in there as this will give such nice taste!

What you are looking for here is a perfect balance between the sweet, salty and spicy flavors. The Ketjap manis will take care of the sweet- and saltiness. The spiciness come from the sambal or spices. I guess a sriracha can work wonders as well.

Step 2: Frying the tempe

Chop your tempe to bitesize pieces. I used sticks of ~2cm long, like in the images below.

Slabs of tempe
Chopped tempe

Add quite some cooking oil to a frying pan on medium heat, depending on the size and amount of tempe you want to make. Try aiming for a large, flat surface cooking pan and adding the oil such that the tempe is approximately halfway covered in oil. The more oil you use, the quicker and better tasting the outcome will be. 

The disadvantage is that introducing a high amount of oil will decrease the healthiness of the tempe goreng. Listen to the frying sounds to evaluate the oil’s temperature. 

You want to hear a gentle singing of the oil, no screaming. Give it some time (~5 minutes) and have a look at a piece of tempe to see it it has that crunchy fried surface. Flip the pieces if you have reached this point. If not, fry a little longer.

Tempe fry start
Tempe fry end

Once all of the tempe goreng has gotten it’s crunchy and colored fried jacket. Turn off the heat and remove the tempe some of the oil.

Step 3: Making the sauce

Start by finely chopping the garlic and onion. Reuse the cooking pan from before to save flavors, like I did for the vegan chicken burger

Set the heat to medium-high and drop in a piece of finely chopped garlic or onion. Once you see the piece of garlic or onion start frying (you see bubbles), throw in the rest of the garlic and onion. Fry until the onion becomes glossy.

Fried garlic and onion

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the 3 tablespoons of ketjap manis and 2 teaspoons for a store bought sambal badjak. Add only one if you use the homemade sambal badjak for a similar degree of spiciness. Of course, play around with the amount of heat and try to keep track of it, the amount you want to use might be different from what I used.

Stir well and let everything heat up for a minute or two. Decrease the heat to low and add the fried tempe. Stir well and have a look at that amazing colour. Your tempe is now ready!

Ketjap sauce
Finished tempe goreng

Use this tempe with any rice dish, on sandwiches, in salads. The sticky and spicy sauce make it the perfect stand alone flavor enhancement to any of your favorite dishes (and vegan!).

If this recipe looks appealing to you, consider checking out my other recipes:

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, let me know if you have any comments and please leave a rating! 

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