Tempe is a fremented soybean cake covered with a sweaty ,fuzzy coat of white mould scent like wood rot.It would not be everyone’s idea of a side dish at home but it is listed as one of the world’s healthiest food.Resembling mould-infested Camembert with a cotton like texture ,tempe is essentially cooked soybeans with a mould culture(Rhizopus Fungus) added,left out to ferment.In a few days,a white bloom (mycelium) covers the beans and binds them together in a cottony embrace.
The use of soybeans gives Tempe a higher content of protein (19.5%),dietary fibre and nutrients compared to beancurd.Compare to beef fat, Tempe has no cholesterol and unsaturated fats.
Tempe protein is complete and of high quality:it contains eight amino acids among which are tryptophan, threonine and leucine.It is also high in vitamin B12,niacin,copper,potassium and magnesium.
The fermented process produces natural antibiotic agents said to increase resistance to intestinal infections and enzymes that aid digestion.The Rhizopus culture not only lends Tempe its characteristic flavour,but deactivates trypsin inhibitors and other chemical components naturally found in soybeans that block enzyme and mineral absorption.It also changes the texture of the soybean,producing a firmer one.
When buying Tempe ,look for Tempe that is covered with a thin ,whitish bloom.While it may have a few black or grayish spots,it should have no evidence of pink ,yellow or blue colouration as this indicates that it has become overly fermented .
Tempe is mostly deep fried or at times add as an additional ingredients in certain curries or masak lemak.It is also pan fried to give a nutty taste and plays as an excellent toppings for certain dishes.
Source: Flavour Magazine, May 2008