Perfect for the Indonesian hot climate, this typical Javanese tempeh snack doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a longer shelf life than fresh tempeh.
Tempe kripik, also written tempe keripik, is basically just crisps made of tin sliced tempeh, dipped in seasoned water or a tapioca batter. During my short visit to Malang, known for high quality tempeh and a large production of tempeh kripik, I was lucky to visit a beautiful, joyful and very hard working family of kripik friers. Malang is known to have a “milder” climate due to it’s altitude. That’s why good tempeh is made there and apples can grow! In the city of Malang, there is a small neighbourhood, Sanan, that is the centre for tempeh kripik. In the narrow streets with colourful murals, rows of rooms and storages, running children, cats, the inevitable scooters, tempeh kripik is being fermented, fried, sold and distributed by numerous proud family businesses.
There are several ways of making tempeh kripik. Through pictures I’ll show how this family works, but later I’ll write a recipe for making your own tempeh kripik.
It’s too bad I didn’t had an interpreter with me this time, since this family and me had few words in common- but sharing work, laughter and a meal doesn’t require much words!
Once cooled down, the beans are inoculated with a liquid inoculum with tapioca based starter and homegrown spores. The beans are then packed tightly in perforated tubes and incubate while hanging on racks to create a perfectly round shape.
The fully fermented sausages are sliced so thin you can almost look through them. These pictures show the traditional way of making slices, though this family even has a motor driven slicer.
Tempeh kripik is mostly fried in a tapioca batter. Other ingredients are onion, egg, salt and spices (bumbu bumbu) like lime leaf. Although this is not specified on packages, the batter (and most food you can get in Indonesia) contains even a commercial spice mix (in this case Knorr Beefpowder) containing msg, artificial flavourings and animal produkts. Totally unnecessary!
And now the heart of the kripik workshop: frying. Palm oil is heated in large wok-like skillets on a gas stove. These women (and many more) work wholes days, every day and still do their work proud and with joy (it seemed to this passing stranger). Every single slice of tempeh gets a double dip and a double fry manually. Imagine the amount of work! I was dipping and frying here for two hours, which exhausted and overheated me. These are strong women! Eat your kripik with respect.