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Tempe (Fermented Soybean Cake)

Tempe or fermented soybean cake is often used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as stir-fries and gravies. A substitute for meat that is rich in protein and high in vitamins, it has a nutty, slightly-tangy flavour, and can also be eaten on its own – marinated in spices, lime juice and turmeric, and fried.

Tempe is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempe is unique among major traditional soy-foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in China or Japan.

It originated in today's Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempe is made from soybeans, but tempe is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempe's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and strong flavor. Because of its nutritional value, tempe is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue.