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Tempeh Kecap

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 5
Calories: 461kcal
Author: Nisha Vora


  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks of tempeh
  • ¼ cup (56g) neutral-flavored, high-heat oil (avocado, grapeseed, canola, vegetable oil)


  • 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced*
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Fresno chile peppers, thinly sliced**
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, outer layers peeled, then minced or grated
  • 4 fresh lime leaves, finely chopped (or 10 to 12 dried makrut lime leaves, left whole)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium red/orange/yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup (90g) dry roasted unsalted peanuts (salted peanuts are fine too)


  • 3 ½ tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)***
  • 1 ½ tablespoons organic brown sugar or cane sugar****
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

For serving

  • Lime juice to squeeze on at the end (optional)
  • Cooked white/brown/sticky rice for serving


  • Cut both blocks of tempeh crosswise into very thin slices, almost as thinly as you can. Then stack several slices on top of each other and cut crosswise into tiny slivers.*
  • Fry the tempeh. Heat a 12-inch nonstick** frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ¼ cup oil and heat for a few minutes until hot. Add all the tempeh and season with a couple pinches of salt, and stir to coat the tempeh into the oil. Spread out the tempeh into an even layer as much as possible and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes to allow browning, then stir.
    Repeat this process (cook for 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir) for a total of 10 to 12 minutes, or until most of the tempeh is golden browned and crispy. Lower the heat a touch if the tempeh starts to burn.
  • Mix together the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Make the stir fry. Return the frying pan to medium heat and allow to heat up again. Add a touch more oil (or cooking spray). Add the shallots, garlic, and chile peppers. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until shallots and garlic start to turn color, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Add in the lemongrass, lime leaves, and bay leaf, and cook for 1 minute, tossing frequently.
    Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the bell peppers and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the fried tempeh and peanuts to the pan, and toss to coat. Pour in the Sauce, and stir for a couple minutes, until the sauce clings to the tempeh and coats it well.
  • Remove the bay leaf (and dried lime leaves, if used). Taste, adding salt as needed. Finish with a squeeze or two of lime juice, if desired.



Ingredient Notes
* You can sub the shallots with 1 small yellow onion.
** If you can’t find Fresno peppers, sub with 1 to 2 Thai chile peppers or 1 serrano pepper (these peppers are spicier).
*** See the next recipe card for my homemade kecap manis recipe.
**** Use 1 tablespoon for a slightly less sweet pronounced dish.
Instruction Notes
*For reference, see photo #2 in the step-by-step instructions.. 
** A nonstick pan is essential to prevent sticking. If you don’t have a large nonstick pan, I recommend cooking the tempeh in two batches. If using a wok, heat it over high heat until it just starts to smoke (open windows). Add the oil and swirl up the sides. Add the tempeh and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for a total of 8 to 12 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.