Tahu Tempe Bacem (Marinated Tofu and Tempeh)

“Bacem” is an Indonesian term that means to preserve by marinating with salt and/or sugar. Originated from Central Java, it is considered the food for commoner – yet I miss eating it time to time while living abroad for college. Serve this recipe with a dish of green vegetable and you’ll have a simple yet wondeful and nutritious meal.

Pronouncing bacem:

Sort of like bu-chum; the bu- from bun, the c- from check, and the -om from bottom.

The ingredients you need to make bacem:

1 block of tofu

1 block of tempeh

3 large shallots

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp coriander seed (Indonesian: biji ketumbar)

3 candlenut (Indonesian: kemiri)

5 tbsp Indonesian sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)

1 bayleaf

Salt to taste

Tips: substitute sweet soy sauce with a mixture of regular soy sauce and palm sugar


The steps for making bacem:

  1. Toast coriander seed and candlenut on a hot pan until smoky/ aromatic. Grind until smooth.
  2. Add in shallots, garlic and a bit of water and grind (mortar and pestle or blender) to a paste.
  3. Mix in sweet soy sauce to the paste and place it in a box or a small tub.
  4. Marinate your tofu and tempeh in the paste for at least one hour. If the tofu and tempe are not submerged, add in water or coconut water
  5. Cook the tofu and tempeh along with the marinate as well as one bayleaf until dry. Bacem is ready to eat.
  6. To add extra flavor and texture, pan fry the tofu and tempeh again. The marinate will caramelize (due to the sugar in the sweet soy sauce) and it will taste much better. Serve with rice.

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