–> DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! <– (seriously!!) and read THIS for the background story.
I was not going to leave Java without a taste of tempeh Bonkrek. The tempeh of death. But it seemed too hard to find (in the end i got a contact. But that’s for another trip) so i opted for DIY bonkrek. I even served it to others, in all my reckless passionate enthusiasm.
Some week ago i visited a coconut oil workshop, where i got a bag of freshly pressed and shredded coconut. A wonderful experience! The same evening i put the coconut in water for an overnight soak and first fermentation/acidification. The sour smell in the morning assures me that everything goes well and safe (low pH ->less bacterial growth). After boiling, inoculating and incubating in perforated bags (japp i travel with a tempeh making kit in my backpack) -the process seems to go perfectly well: the loose shreds become a heat producing, solid cake and the smell is lightly sour, but also sweet en sends a reminder of what coconut cream heaven must be like. -> It was a warning! <-
Next day i took the tempeh to a restaurant where i was meeting some friends over a game of cards and more delicious tempeh “mendoang”. The cook deep fried my weird tempeh and served it to us. It was horrible. The coconut just absorbed the endlessly reused frying oil, i can still taste it in the back of my throat- we all just took a tiny bite. Good for us. Not to hurt the cook’s feelings, who probably meant to do us a favour, we hid the pieces and threw them away later.Which was a good thing.
The remaining slab of tempeh bonkrek traveled with me from Yogyakarta to Bandung, where i unwrapped it (hearing for the 100st time “you really like tempeh!”) and noticed it started to turn yellow! The yellowness is an indicator that the toxin toxoflavin is being produced, which in its turn is an indicator of bonkrekic acid production, since the two are assumed to be produced together by the same bacteria. Bonkrekic acid can kill you within 4 hours after consumption.
It could be possible that toxoflavin is produced without bonkrekic acid, and though toxoflavin is not as lethal as the latter, you don’t want to eat that either. Maybe the gratings were not pressed enough, since the bacteria needs an oil content over 20% to produce the toxin. Luckily there was no yellowness (thus no toxin) at the time of consumption. I feel healthy and my friends are not complaining. The remaining tempeh of death is now hopefully destroyed.