Making tempeh

Now that the summer holiday is over and school has started again, I should have time to sew again! Unfortunately I guess the summer bug has got me, it is so hot in my sewing room upstair that I prefer to stay downstair most of the time. I’m trying to make a dress right now with tie-dye fabric from my mother but the progress is sooooo slow for such a simple dress.

Tempe making

Homemade tempeh

Anyway I made something else. The hot temperature is actually perfect for fermentation! So I thought about trying to make my own tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy product, originally from Indonesia. It is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. I usually deep-fried slices of tempeh after marinating them in garlic, coriander, salt, and water, but you can cook tempeh in various ways. It is even often used as a substitute for meat.

Sidra really likes fried tempeh and we often bought them from an Indonesian store in Shinokubo. But I always wanted to try making them myself so we can always have tempeh supplies at home. After researching my options (Google, of course), I ordered my tempeh starter from TopCultures, a company based in Belgium, which is pretty ironic since I was making a traditional Indonesian product in Japan.

Tempe making

300 gr dried soybeans, 2.5 tbsp of vinegar, 1/2 tsp tempeh starter

I used the instructions on this page to make my first batch. Instead of 600 g of dried soybeans, I only used 300 gr and half of everything else.

The dried soybeans need to be soaked overnight before they are splitted and dehulled. I found this to be the most difficult part. Some people crack the soybeans before soaking, using a mill. Since I don’t have a mill, I had to do the splitting (not cracking anymore as the soybeans had become softer) by hand.

I kinda like it thought, it felt like popping bubble wrap! You don’t want to stop, and keep looking for more. Maybe it’s just me though.


Tempe making Tempe making

After all the soybeans have been splitted and dehulled, the vinegar is added and they are cooked for 30 minutes. Then they are drained and left to cool off before the tempeh starter is added and mixed together. The soybeans have to be completely cooled off because heat will kill the fungus. I used ziplock bags as container. They were perforated at regular intervals with thick needles to allow breathing. Then the tempeh are stored in a warm place (about 30°C) for 36-48 hours.

After they were stored for fermentation, I took a peek every hour to check the progress. The first 12 hour, nothing seemed to happen to the beans, only the bags felt a little warm. Not knowing what to be expected, I began to feel a bit worried. But 36 hours later, they were already covered in white mould! I couldn’t believe that I was able to make my own tempeh!

Tempe making

After 36 hours of fermentation

I took them out of the bag, sliced them, and fried them immediately. They tasted so good! Sidra was ecstatic when he tasted them. He said they were the best tempeh in the world! He is such a picky eater and often refused to eat meat because he felt sorry for the animals, so I’m very happy that now we have an alternative protein source other than meat.

The two bags of tempeh disappeared faster than I thought, we fried them, marinade them in honey and pepper and microwaved them, and added them to spaghetti aglio. There are new batches already sitting in my cupboard now. My husband helped with the new batches because he was curious. I guess making tempeh will become our new routine!

Tempe making

Oooh fried tempeh…

Little things

Christmas Potluck Party

Christmas Potluck Party

I joined a small cooking class in the neighborhood and they had a Christmas potluck party yesterday. I always got nervous whenever I have to meet people, and this time I had to make something edible for them! The fact that my skill in the kitchen is not something to be proud of didn’t help either. So I spent the whole week getting nervous about it.

I ended up making sweet Indonesian (Javanese) dessert called ‘Jenang Grendul’, it is one of my favorite food when I was a kid. This dessert is some kind of sweet porridge with little balls made of rice flour and mochi flour cooked in coconut sugar and pandan leaves, served with coconut milk sauce. It was a success! Everybody loved it but nobody could pronounce the name right. Sidra really liked it too and was sulking when he found out that the big pot of dessert was no longer there when he got back from school. I ended up making some more for him, using up my precious stash of coconut sugar.

Jenang Grendul

Jenang Grendul

There were mostly elderly women in the cooking class, and all of them were very nice to me, curiously asking about my country and getting all excited about, well, having a foreigner in the class. But as much as I love seeing them, I’m glad that the party was over. Meeting lots of people at the same time always makes me feeling so drained out that I need a few days break from anybody afterwards. It’s an amazing thing that I could survive working in fashion magazines for almost ten years when I was in Indonesia.

Hand warmers

Hand warmers

Anyway, this morning I stumbled across this post in No Big Dill, talking about rice-filled hand warmer. Born a tropical creature, I’m not equipped with any useful knowledge about surviving winter, so I’ve never heard such thing as rice-filled hand warmer. I told my husband that I was going to make them, and although he’s been living in Japan for 11 years, he has never heard of them either. I tried to explain it to him.

“It’s like small pillows, and we fill them with rice. Then we put them in the microwave for a minute or so.”

“And then you eat the rice?”


After he left for the office, I went ahead and made a pair of small cases from linen fabrics. I ran out of rice, so I used some leftover red beans from Sidra’s science project. Then I made covers for the small bags with some nani IRO linen with blue flowers pattern. The finished size is about 11×22 cm.

I put them in microwave for about 2 minutes and began putting them on my hand and neck. Ooooh! How come I hadn’t come across something like these before? They are so perfect! The heat was a bit moist and stayed longer that I had expected. The beans inside made them felt so comfortable on my skin. I’m going to make bigger ones! For my feet, for my back, for my neck! Hurray to some winter skill!

Lazy chocolate cake

Sidra asked for keeki (cake) for breakfast this morning. I didn’t have an oven nor any cake ingredients, so I whipped this one from things already in the kitchen. With a microwave, it only took five minutes from preparation to serving, perfect for a hungry, demanding kindergarten kid.


  • 4 tbs pancake mix flour
  • 2 tbs milk cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs oil
  • 3 tbs water/milk
  • 2 chocochips cookies, crumbled
  • raisins


  • Mix pancake mix flour, milk cocoa powder, and sugar in a microwave-safe container
  • Pour in egg, oil, water/milk, blend together
  • Add chocochips cookies crumbles and raisins
  • Cover and cook in microwave in high power for approximately 3 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched
  • Serve to hungry kid
I’ve made another batch using banana instead of raisins, and Sidra loves it too. And now I’m eating a piece of this cake with a scoop of madamia ice cream. Yummy!