Tempeh is likely to have originated on the island of Java several hundred years ago. It could be the oldest process of food processing. In traditional dictionaries in Indonesia, it is spelled as témpé. It is a fermented soybean product, and can be made from other legumes such as lentils or even oats. Other substances used to make tempeh were the protein rich cakes that were left after peanuts or coconuts were pressed for oil, or the soypulp left after making soymilk or tofu called okara. Another possible source for tempeh is in China. William Morse noted that fermented soy food called tou chiah ping “soybean fried cake” was served in Beijing. The earliest reference to it dates back to 1815. The first reference by a European author is in 1875, and was first recorded spelled tempeh in 1950. Tempeh was first produced commercially between 1946 and 1959 in Europe. By 1984 Europe had more than 18 tempeh companies.
The first tempeh shop opened in the US in 1961, and the progenitors of the hippie movement began making it in the 70’s, with major publications such as Mother Earth News providing recipes. It is now a popular food item and it is available in supermarkets and health specialty stores.
The word tempeh actually refers to a vast array of fermented legumes bound by the mycellium of the white fragrant Rhizopus mold. When making tempeh, the sprouted soy cotyledons are lightly acidified with either lactic acid prefermentation or more often vinegar, inoculated and placed in perforated containers for about 24 hours until the tempeh is ready to cook.
Tempeh is a nutty food that is cooked or eaten raw. It is made from cooked or sprouted soy beans and pressed into a patty. Commercially made tempeh adds barley. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus.
Soy beans, vinegar, culture