Healhty Vietnames inspired lemongrass tempe

vietnamese inspired lemongrass tempe

So the idea of lemongrass chicken has been ringing in my ears for some time now. I saw it on some menus and on a YouTube video and when I found lemongrass in the supermarket the other day I decided it’s time to try it. We don’t always get lemongrass here in Bulgaria, it’s kind of a lucky coincidence, so when I do find it we celebrate and I start cooking Asian food like a maniac – or like a slightly home-food-sick crazy chef. My girlfriend goes a bit berzerk with all the lemongrass I try to serve her.

Lemongrass ginger tea? How about some lemongrass in your pasta? Ooooh I have an idea, caramelized lemongrass candy sticks? That one is probably a bit tough to swallow, but you could lick it all day long.

I just returned from the Netherlands where I was visiting my sister and had brought back some tempe (or tempeh a some write it). Since we are trying to eat less meat – like once or twice a week – I substituted the chicken for tempe. It turned out great. I have eaten tons of tempe in my life since I grew up in Indonesia and it’s basically a staple food tere. Tempe (as it’s written in Indonesia) is basically a fermented soya bean cake. It’s very high in protein and because it’s fermented  to some degree the estrogen like molecules found naturally in soy have been altered and it’s much healthier for us and easier to digest.

If you can’t get your hands on tempe then you could use tofu or the classic … chicken. If using tofu, you will not have to pre-fry it, just marinade and cook. I pre-fried my tempe to give it some color and a nice bite to the outside, but you don’t have to.

healthy lemongrass chicken tempeh

— Makes 2 portions —

Lemongrass tempe ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 400 g tempe, chopped into 1 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm cubes (or tofu or chicken)
  • 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced (or substitute with some dried chilli flakes)
  • 2 fresh or 4 dried lime leaves
  • 2/3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar & 1 1/2 tsp sugar dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 1 small tomato chopped into large chunks


vietnamese lemongrass tempeh

Fry the tempe in a bit of oil on high heat for a few minutes, until half cooked and browned on each side. You do not have to do this, but it does give a yummier texture.

Mix the fish sauce, soya sauce, garlic, 1.5 tbsp sugar and curry powder in a large bowl. Add the tempe (or tofu or chicken) and coat with the sauce. In a hot pan, saute the onions till soft. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves and chilli and cook for a couple of min. Take your time to enjoy the beautiful smell of the fragrant lemongrass.


Add the tomato and the tempe to the pan along with all the sauce and the sugar water. Bring the temperature down to medium-high heat so you do not burn your food. Cook for about 5-10 min, until the sauces have caramelized and the tempe is cooked through. Throw in the spring onions and toss around a bit until they are soft. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with some white/red/brown/black rice or all of the colors of rice you can find. You could also eat this with quinoa. YUM YUM!


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