TEMPE, The Incredibly Healthy Food From Indonesia

Tempe is a traditional food from Indonesia, specifically Java, made from fermented soybean. The earliest manuscript known to mentionthis food is Serat Centhini in 1815. However, it is possible that it has been around for few centuries as early as 12th or 13th century since, and an old Javanese manuscript called Serat Sri Tanjung mentioned kadele, or soybean, although it not known for sure whether the soybean mentioned referred to the fermented version or not.

Although it is not widely known around the globe until recently, it is a popular staple food around Java Island. It is a great source of protein and has a high content of other nutrition too. These nutrition-packed food has become a popular food among vegetarians as an alternative source of protein.




It generally takes around 48 hours the make this dish. It starts by soaking the whole soybeans, and then dehulled, and partly cooked. Then, Rhizopus spp. is added for fermentation process for about 24 to 36 hours at 300C. When the white mycelium has bound the soybean together evenly, it means that it is ready. A good tempe should form a solid mass of soybean and white mycelium. It will be firm and not easily crumble. It will smell clean, pleasant, and subtly sweet.



This food has impressive nutrition content and called as Indonesia’s gift to the world. It is high in protein and low in fat, which makes it a great alternative source for meatless protein. That is why this food is also popular among vegetarian. It is also the only plant-based food which contains vitamin B12. However, the tempe produced in western countries usually use the pure culture of Rhizopusoligosporusonly which makes it have very little B12.

It also contains easily digestible carbohydrate due to the fermentation process. It is also rich in other important vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9 aside from the B12. Minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Zinc are also found in this food. It is a more nutrient-packed food than other soy products commonly used as vegetarian protein source alternatives.




Due to its high content of nutrition, it is no wonder that it has many benefit for health. Here are some of them.


1.Promote digestive health; Fermented food sometimes contains prebiotics that is beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. This is the case with this delicious food which is found to be rich in prebiotics. Not only promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, but it also increases the formation of butyrate, the source of energy for cells in the colon. In turns, this prebiotics may help to promote digestive health, reduce inflammation, and increased stool frequency.

2.Keep you full longer; You can add this food to your diet menu since this food can help you to keep full longer due to its high content of protein. The protein-rich diet will help you to control your appetite, make you feel full longer and also helps the body to burn more calories after each meal. Plant-based protein source works as effective as meat-based protein to control appetite.

3.Reduce cholesterol levels; As this food is made of soybean that rich of isoflavones. This compoundis known for its ability to reduce cholesterol levels. Soy isoflavones are also good to significantly decrease LDL and total cholesterol.

4.Maintain the bone health; Since this food is also rich for minerals such as calcium, it is beneficial to keep the bone dense and strong. Sufficient amount of calcium will help to prevent osteoporosis and increase the bone density and growth in children and teenagers. Calcium in this food is also absorbed easily just like other sources of calcium such as milk. Therefore, it is a great source of plant-based calcium for vegetarian.

5.Contain antioxidants; Isoflavones in this dish also have antioxidant properties that will help to neutralize free radicals. It helps to reduce oxidative stress and prevent disease associated with free radicals such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.




Despite its rich nutrients and high benefits, some people may not be able to enjoy it. It is generally safe for most people, just like any other fermented soy products. However, people who have soy allergy should avoid this food.

People who allergic to soy may have an allergic response to this food with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling, and hives. Soybean is also known to contain goitrogens that can interfere with the thyroid function. Soy intake usually save to most people because it has little to no effect on the thyroid. However, people with compromised or impaired thyroid function should be careful about their soybeans intake.


Tempe can be considered as versatile food as you can easily incorporate it to your daily diet. Marinate it, seasoned it, and then baked, crumbled, sautéed it, whatever you like, and you will get your daily intake of nutrient-packed food.


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