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.

Instant Noodle Tempe

Inspired by the Indomie Uniqmie competition, I tried to push my creativity on preparing instant noodle. This instant noodle tempe reflects myself – A food scientist, technologist, fermentist, who loves food so much and play around with it. The feeling of creating something new playfully always one of the best rewards.

How to Make

  1. Cook noodle in boiling water, drain and dry with paper towel
  2. Mix with 1 tsp of vinnegar in a clean bowl, then mix with 1 pinch of tempe starter
  3. Incubate in warm room temperature (I did 32 degree Celsius for 30 hours) until solid white
  4. Cook as tempe, I fried it and seasoned it with the instant noodle’s seasonings. You can also rub the seasoning on the noodle tempe before cooking.

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.

TempeBar – Tempeh Health Bar

This creation has been in my kitchen for months, containing so much hope to be a solution for healthy snacking. I had been thinking of patenting and registering trademark of it. However, my heart doesn’t go for anything that prevents others to cherish this healthy delicacy. I decided to set this idea free, I wish the world can make more creation of tempeh to enjoy, which all could begin from this single humble post. Please access


TempeBar is a healthy snack bar made of chocolate-covered baked tempeh. Among other snack bars, TempeBar stands out by its main ingredient: tempeh.

Tempeh is a fermented traditional food from Indonesia, firstly documented in a 16th century ancient inscription. Tempeh has high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate, low salt, and contains the essential Vitamin B12 that is commonly found in animal products. While other bars usually use high amount of sugar and fat to compact the grains, TempeBar does not need that thanks to the favorable fermentation, which also makes the nutrients easier to digest and eliminate soy bean’s anti-nutrient.

TempeBar has a very unique taste – a combination of tempeh’s nutty and umami, semi-sweet chocolate’s sweet and bitter, and dimensions of sweet berry or savory coconut as toppings.

TempeBar is a hope for solution to affordable and healthy snacking, including for vegetarians and vegans. It is a gift from Indonesian culture tradition to the world.

While the idea is set free, TempeBar is welcoming investors and manufacturers to spread the good news in the market around the world.










Maple & Ivy Tempeh

Making tempeh is something I miss a lot here in New England. Originated in tropical Indonesia, not so many Indonesians make tempeh in countries with 4-season after they move out.However, making tempeh brings a wholy different sensation than just cooking and eating it. You never make any same tempeh. The way you touch, boil, soak, stir, pack, and store would affect how it is formed. Relying on the white mold Rhizopus spp. to grow and unite the beans together, any other germs on your hands, bowl, plastic, leaves would add a new dimension of diversity, compounds, and taste. An example, Indonesian tempeh commonly contains Vitamin B12, produced by Klebsiella who comes from not-sterile water.

Watching the foliage of New England fall outside, a banana leaf-covered tempeh crossed my mind. Why not these beautiful maple leaves?

I took a stroll and collected few maple and ivy leaves, and worked on it in the kitchen. Japanese food and origami took part in this creative process. How they combine both inspired me to find a new and natural way to fold the leaves into a pocket that can encase the beans. 

After two days of incubation, the solid white tangled beans formed, rewarding this experience of art, science, and culture.

Indonesian Classic “Nasi Tempe Kecap” in Amherst

“Nasi” = rice; “Tempe” = tempeh; “Kecap” = sweet soy sauce. That’s all!

Indonesians usually eat tempe almost every day. And finding tempe finally after 2 months here was kind of a kitchen celebration for me!

Since I’m still waiting for some ingredients to make my own tempe (fermenting soy beans with healthy mushrooms and makes it has Vitamin B12, beta-glucan fiber, reduced fat, and increased protein), Whole Foods’ soyjoy was not bad.


Ingredients: Vegetable oil. Tempe. Salt. Rice. Sweet soy sauce.

Total: $2 / portion

Tempe Challenge

Tempe Challenge Week 0-3

This is what makes me start writing a blog. I hope this blog can provide the informations on how #tempechallenge is done, a bodybuilding effort using tempe, affordable traditional food of Indonesia.

How It Begun

I ended up getting tempe as a bodybuilding supplement because:
1. Could not afford to buy protein supplements
2. Allergic to milk protein, causing acne
3. Could not dedicate my self in affording and consuming chicken meat of beef for daily basis (high in price and hardly found in daily home dishes)

As a biotechnology bachelor student, I had been taught to access trustable information source in scientific world, i.e. journal article: a premier source of informations written by researchers to document their research results. So I was used to browse informations about effective body building principles, including recommended foods for body building.

The purpose of building is different for each person, but commonly it is to build more muscle and lose more fat. And generally, recommended foods are those with high protein, and low fat. I found tempe has that core characteristics (18 g protein, 4 g fat in 100 g usually), and even more! Through literature researches I summarised that tempe also has the vitamin B12 which had only been found in animal products. The vitamin is good for cell replication and growth, making your body parts renewed well and in the end can make you age slower. And the most important thing is tempe is affordable, I can easily find it in my daily home dishes as an Indonesian.

I shared these informations, but surprisingly not so many people believe. Okay, I was used to hear my friends researched about tempe this, tempe that. Biotechnology students had a pretty good image on tempe, the indigenous fermented food is fabulous here. Unfortunately, it looks like tempe is still looked down as a “minimalist” food.

Sharing those benefits of tempe would be beneficial for many people, that is what I had in mind. People don’t have to spend much money on providing lean meats everyday and they may reduce the dose of those bodybuilding supplements, while getting bonus in ageing slower!

So I decided to make my self as a guinea pig in order to show people that tempe really can give a help to our bodybuilding strive.

How It Was Done

Diet. I took 1 fist-size (approx. 100 g) of tempe everyday. Thin-sliced and grilled in oven for 7 minutes so it turns crispy and tasty by the caramelisation reaction. I ate it by plain, salted, or with honey. Even raw sometimes.

I used tempe as a supplement, not as replacement for my diet. It’s kind of extra protein source. I ate normally, 6 small portions of Indonesian home dishes (mostly Javanese) with proportion of 1:1:1 of carbohydrate:vegetable:protein-source. I just found the proportion tastes really good for my tongue back then.

Exercise. I do not go to gym, since I always had lower-back problem after liftings. So I do these exercises 3 rounds until failure, every 3 days:
1. Push up
2. Hindu push up
3. Pull up
4. Plank
5. Side plank

I also do relax swimming and morning run for the other every 3 days. Just because I love it hahaha.

Documentation. I did the program for 3 months strict in November 2014 and posted progress photo every week in my Instagram account @driando (as I want to show people that tempe works, I had to go against my nature. Never had any idea to post any shirtless photo if it was not for this).

How It Felt

I really could feel tempe increases the muscle mass without giving more fat to my body. However, it was not as fast as if we use protein milk supplements. It is normal since the protein content and proportion are way different, tempe is a daily food for now.

What’s notably for my self is, that fist-size daily dose was too much for me. I got slight increase in acne in the third week. Too much is never good, this is what I found too when eating eggs more than 2 in one eating time. However, half-a-fist size works fine for me.

How It Turns Out

Surprisingly, quite many people noticed the tempe-based bodybuilding idea. And their questions are the reason I’m writing this blog.

However, there are several doubts on tempe because of its phytoestrogen content. It makes some people scared that they will more likely to be female-ish due to that estrogen-like hormone.

I dug scientific literatures out again and did not find any that says phytoestrogen will cause hormone-stimulated alterations in men. Not in soy, moreover in tempe.

How It Continued

Eating tempe in that amount and similar style everyday did make my tongue bored. I consciously notice that I did #tempechallenge as a proving campaign. As a person I realise I need variations of foods in my days.

So I continued the challenge but through consuming different types of cooked tempe, including fried ones. As I travelled to Yogyakarta and its surroundings to prepare the International Conference on Tempe 2015, I found so many variations of tempe. Really helped out to enjoy tempe this time. The 2 weeks trial contributed this result:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.30.51 PM

Those various cooking styles of course made the variables less valid in scientific context, but I found that eating tempe in its various cooking styles still helped me to increase the muscle mass, even though it was not as lean as eating just grilled tempe everyday.

The Viral

The challenge has not gone viral, only my little brother (@sergio_and on Instagram) joined me. Please post your progress in #tempechallenge hashtags when you give a try. We are not showing off right, we share the good news, so don’t be hesitate 🙂


I personally encourage everyone to give a try on using tempe as a lean protein source for muscle building or lean body maintenance. However, not every single our bodies’s response on foods we eat has been researched. Keep listen to our body because everyone has a different DNA code hence different metabolism and responses to food. Let’s find our own dose, our own style, our own equilibrium.

I hope this sharing will be beneficial and ideally be a solution for reaching everyone’s image of ideal body, and also promoting Indonesia’s very cool food which has been looked down.

Salam tempe!

Any question? Please e-mail, I will sum the useful infos to be posted later.