Humans of Tempeh: Chef Bradley and His Fusion Homy Tempeh Dish

We met Executive Chef James Bradley and his stunning tempe dish at Po’shines Cafe in Portland, Oregon, United States. He shared, “Look at how Asians eat beef. They eat a little bit with a little bit this and that. They don’t eat a whole steak or burgers everyday. We need to change.”

 The dish served was tempeh marinated in a combination of South American spices and Asian umami, grilled and served with grilled mango, avocado salad, and rice crispies.

The Second #TempeChallenge

2nd Tempe Challenge Publish.jpg

It had been two years since the first Tempe Challenge. I did not take that lean body for granted anymore. My metabolism was different, it stored fat more easily. I was also struggling in the United States with the temptation of western foods. And after I found my passion in the culinary arts, I could not sacrifice cooking and eating just for the sake of bodybuilding anymore.

My goal this time was to feel and look healthy again after a very intense 3-week culinary trip to Chicago, London, Oxford, Chipping Campden, Darmstadt, and Paris.

The main focus was still to use tempeh as the main protein source, but I combined it with fasting and shaping the gut microbiota. I used fasting to regain the joy of eating after the trip. Gut microbiota are the germs in our gut that can contribute whether we store fat more easily or the opposite and we can ‘shape’ them. High-fat diets were reported to increase the amount of microbiota in the Firmicutes group, which is correlated with obesity. In contrast, high-carbohydrate, vegetable, and fruit diets increased microbiota in the Bacteroidetes group. This is identical with lean individuals.

After a tough one-day fasting, with only Icelandic dried fish and coconut water, I carried on to the next days. I slowly increased my meal portion to regular increments with tempeh incorporated low-fat foods.

I have included a detailed program of the challenge which includes a severe food allergy reaction that got me hospitalized and made a slight change in my diet.

Again, this is not a scientific examination because the only control that I had was tempeh consumption and fasting. This diet was an effort to show tempeh as my main protein source and that I could still be healthy and move forward in shaping my body.”Enough! I need food that does not harm me!”

This is what I said to myself after a 3-week culinary trip. The food was great, I cherished every meal, and I got lots of culinary insight. However, the taste of a lean, fresh, and wholesome meal was missing. On top of that, I noticed that I did not feel healthy; my cheeks were bloated and my body felt heavy after the trip.

The following weeks after my trip, I began eating a meatless diet to reduce facial bloating; this had worked for me previously. To reshape my gut microbiota I additionally reduced my fat intake and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.

I realized that as I was changing my diet, I was in actuality participating in The Tempe Challange again. I was depending on tempe, also known as “tempeh”, as a main protein source.

The Tempe Challenge is a resource used to build muscle mass by eating tempeh as a protein source. I had developed and initiated this idea in 2014 to increase the awareness on tempeh as a cheap, environmentally friendly, and tasty protein source. In this book, I document how I went through the steps of the challenge in a much more robust way. It includes how I developed some out-of-the-box tempeh recipes to keep the journey exciting.

Again, this is not a scientific examination because the only control that I had was tempeh consumption and fasting. This diet was an effort to show tempeh as my main protein source and that I could still be healthy and move forward in shaping my body.

Daily Log Example

Thursday (12/22/2016)

Program: Sleep at the airport
Foods: Tempe tikka masala, rice; 3 pao de queijo, 1/4 cup of red wine, 1/4 cup of white wine; 2/3 portion of pork chop and freekeh salad; 3 pao de queijo, 2/3 portion of pork chop and freekeh salad, TempeBar; 3 pao de queijo
Friday (12/23/2016)
Program: 30 hours of flight to Indonesia
Foods: 2/3 portion of pork chop and freekeh salad, a cup of mixed fruits, 1 pretzel; miso noodle, bean salad, bread with butter, rice crackers
Saturday (12/24/2016)
Foods: Tiny turkey and cheese sandwich, 1/2 cup of french toast, 1 cup of fruits; 1 cup of ginger pork, rice, 3 sushi, 1/2 cup of unagi; 1/2 cup of rice, 3 pcs of fried chicken, 1 pc of potato, vegetables, 1/4 cup of chocolate cake, 1/4 cup of Japanese beer
Sunday (12/25/2016)
Program: 0.5 mi run, 3 sets of full body exercises to failure
Foods: Pao de queijo, butternut squash soup; yellow rice, small fried chicken, potatoes, vegetable, crackers, apple, tempe stir-fry, tempe chips, dry tempe; rice, potatoes, watercress, tempe stir-fry, dry tempe
Monday (12/26/2016)
Program: 3 sets of pull ups and push ups to failure
Foods: apple, macadamia nuts, tiny bread, 1/4 cup of granola, dried tempe; rice, tempe stir-fry, yellow rice, potatoes, tiny fried chicken, crackers; uduk rice, fried chicken, chili, crackers, coleslaw
Tuesday (12/27/2016)
Program: 3 sets of full body workout to failure
Foods: egg, apple, rice; rice, tempe, chili, 1/4 cup of chicken, crackers; rice, a piece of chicken leg, chili, cassava leaves
Wednesday (12/28/2016)
Program: morning walk, 3 sets of full body workout to failure
Foods: egg, rice porridge; fried rice, watercress, mussels; noodle with shredded chicken, mushroom, and wontons; bread, salami, butter, orange
Thursday (12/29/2016)
Program: morning walk, 3 sets of full body workout to failure
Foods: bread; rice, tempe, vegetable; sirloin steak, mashed potato
Friday (12/30/2016)
Program: morning run (3.85 mi), full body workout
Foods: omlette, bread; papaya flower, rice, fish; ribeye steak, pizza
Saturday (12/31/16)
Program: morning walk and run
Foods: noodle, shredded chicken, mushroom, wonton; pear, rice, papaya flower, fish, tempe; beef burger
Sunday (1/1/17)
Program: morning walk, full body workout
Foods: chocolate bread; rice, vegetable; beef burger
Monday (1/2/17)
Program: morning walk, 1 set of full body workout
Foods: beef burger; rice, vegetable, fish; fried rice, fried noodle
Monday (1/30/17)
Program: run (2.6 mi)
Foods: rice noodle, tempe soup, banana, apple, orange
Tuesday (1/31/17)
Program: run (2.8 mi)
Foods: rice noodle, fried chicken, tempe char siu, tempe katsu, banana, apple, orange
Wednesday (2/1/17)
Program: run (2.6 mi)
Foods: tempe wonton, 1/2 rice, 1/4 char siu, banana, apple, orange, tempe matzo balls, fempe char siu
Thursday (2/2/17)
Program: run (1.5 mi)
Foods: tempe pie, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup char siu, 1/2 cup oxtail, 1/4 cup rice, 1/2 cup noodle
Feeling: exhausted


Home-fermented Indonesian fried Tempe / Tempeh

This is the mos beautiful thing I’ve ever made so far.


  • 1 cup of dry soybean
  • Water
  • 1 tbsp of vinnegar
  • 1 pinch of Tempe starter (“ragi tempe” on eBay)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Sweet soy sauce


  • Large pot or sauce pan
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen towel
  • Plastic bag (punctured every 1/2 inch)
  • Frying pan


  1. Soak soybean in a pot with 3 times amount of water overnight
  2. Crush soybean with hand until it splits and the skin floats
  3. Remove as much skin as possible
  4. Boil in 2 times amount of water for 1 hour
  5. Drain and spread the beans on kitchen towel and dry it until it’s dry to touch
  6. Remove it into a dry bowl, add vinnegar and mix well
  7. Add tempe starter and wix well
  8. Scoop the beans into plastic bag, making about 1 inch thick
  9. Put it on rack with good air circulation. Keep it in warm room temperature (~75 F or 26-30 degree Celsius).
  10. It’s done when it’s solid white, to stop the fermentation put it in the fridge (stop it as soon as you see some black spots)
  11. Cut and fry in oil until golden brown, sprinkle with salt and enjoy with sweet soy sauce.